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Physician Spotlight on Dr. Robert Spang

How did you become interested in sports medicine and shoulder surgery?

I’ve always loved sports. I played football, hockey, baseball, and later rugby in college. During medical school, I spent time with Dr. Bill Levine and Dr. Chris Ahmad who take care of the NY Yankees. I saw a patient with shoulder arthritis who couldn’t sleep from pain, couldn’t lift their arm, and asked to have it cut off. I then saw someone who, just six weeks after a shoulder replacement, gave Dr. Levine a high-five without pain. It was then that I fell in love with shoulder surgery. I was hooked even before stepping into the operating room. As time went on, I also fell in love with arthroscopy and minimally invasive techniques, in addition to shoulder replacement.

What is your practice philosophy?

Medicine is as much an art as a science. Listening and bedside manner make a difference. Patients come from diverse backgrounds and have different goals, so I aim to listen and have open, honest discussions about expectations, options, and risks. I strive to treat every patient as I would want my own family members to be treated. Personally, I aim for surgical excellence by visualizing every case beforehand, taking notes after every surgery, and reading and engaging in discussions with others to seek continuous improvement. It’s about lifelong learning.

I believe robotic surgery is a tremendously valuable tool that will continue to bridge the gap between surgical planning and precise execution. I use robotics for all my knee arthroplasty cases and look forward to its impact on shoulder arthroplasty in the near future.

Why is it important for patients to see a specialist?

My belief is that specialization in medicine is better for patients. My practice focuses almost exclusively on shoulder and knee issues, and I don’t “dabble” in procedures. If I’m not the best surgeon or doctor to take care of a patient’s problem, I find a friend within our organization who is the best and refer the patient to them. If we try to be good at everything, we end up being a master of nothing. It’s all about what’s best for the patient.

What are your personal interests? 

I love snowboarding, golf, and spending time with my family in Cape Cod. Despite my time in NYC for med school and with the NY Giants during fellowship, I remain avid Boston sports fan.