Life in the OR: Surgical Neurophysiologist Edition, Vol.3

Our IONM training program welcomes up to 25 new students across four training cohorts each year. In order to be considered, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and display a commitment to core values like clinical excellence, integrity, and customer service. The year-long program includes classroom learning, supervised clinical training, and clinical oversight until competencies are demonstrated. We sat down with Aaron Pangan, one of our neurophysiologists, to discuss his experience, his success in our SNI Training Program, and where he is in his career as a Surgical Neurophysiologist today.

What is Your Current Position and What Team are You on Within SpecialtyCare?

I am currently a Surgical Neurophysiologist I (SNI) on the Sacramento Team, and I am in the February 2021 Cohort of the IONM Training Program. Here in Sacramento, we support a lot of different hospitals around the area. We also help out the teams in the Bay Area, Stockton, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Southern Oregon, so our footprint is pretty large! 

What Does a Typical Workday Look Like for You?

For me, a typical workday is very atypical. When I started this job, I found out that scheduling is very fluid and dynamic. Surgeries can get canceled, added on, or can go longer than expected. I would say the only thing that is typical, besides our equipment, is the mindset that a neurophysiologist has. Once we step foot into the hospital, the mentality switches so the clinician can give his or her best to both the surgeon and the patient in order to have a successful surgery. 

What Do You Enjoy Most About Your Job? 

Two parts stick out the most to me: association and impact. I grew up in a big sports family, so I was on my fair share of sports teams. In my first experience in the OR, I was introduced to the surgeon by my preceptor and the response the surgeon gave was, “We are glad to have you, welcome to the team.” By instilling that team mindset and mentality, it aided me in the transition to the OR and made me feel welcome. You are surrounded by some of the smartest people you’ll ever meet and you’re constantly absorbing knowledge and building relationships, which is truly incredible. 

The impact that we have is the reason why I continue to love my job day in and day out. What we do in the OR enables a successful patient’s procedure. For me, having an impact to better the life of one person, and their community, is one of the best privileges that I have.

What Made You Decide to Join the SpecialtyCare IONM Training Program? 

When I found SpecialtyCare’s training program, I thought this opportunity was too good to be true: I can learn from and work with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other hospital staff while directly impacting someone’s life? Count me in! From the first interview, I can feel the passion that the educators have for the field as well as the passion they have for each member of the incoming cohort. Julie Trott, Kristina Young, and Cheryl Wiggins have done a phenomenal job in creating a world-class program that provides the tools necessary for anyone, regardless of educational background, to succeed as a neurophysiologist.

What Has Been the Most Rewarding Part of Training in IONM So Far?

The most rewarding part of training in IONM is knowing that you are never alone. In the OR, we have our preceptors who bestow their knowledge and experience to us and our remote neurologist who acts as a second pair of eyes as we work through each case. Training with the members of my cohort has provided me with people who relate to the same struggles that I currently face while in the program. All of us at SpecialtyCare build each other up while keeping the same goal in mind: patient safety.  

Why Would You Encourage Someone to Enter this Field and Consider the SpecialtyCare IONM Training Program?

If you love critical thinking, problem solving, and have a desire to directly impact someone’s life, then this is the perfect field for you. IONM opens many doors for different neurophysiologists. This may be in research, being more involved clinically, holding leadership roles, or being an educator. The possibilities are truly endless. The training program prepares you didactically, as well as clinically, so you really will apply what you learn in the classroom. You’ll have many different mentors that help and guide you along the way, but you’ll have the necessary independence in order to further push your limits professionally, mentally, and socially.  

Any Example Stories or Events You’d Like to Share?

Being part of SpecialtyCare’s first Zoom University Cohort due to the pandemic was difficult when it came to opening up to each other for each lesson, answering questions, and being ourselves online. Julie Trott, the director for IONM SNI Education, did a great job of breaking us out of our comfort zones by being herself and by bringing the energy each day to teach us about IONM. We all needed to match the energy she was giving us to fully succeed. When we all finally met in Nashville for our 8th week, it was more of a reunion rather than work because we knew about each other and had grown together. The feeling of finally meeting coworkers who you see almost every day in zoom was like seeing a friend for the first time who moved across the country. That week was a period of learning, growth, and fellowship, and it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

Learn More About SpecialtyCare’s IONM Training Program

Our surgical neurophysiologists are well educated, highly trained, and have extensive experience in the field. SpecialtyCare is dedicated to hiring talented and motivated people who are eager to learn and start a career in this exciting and rewarding field. As a SpecialtyCare surgical neurophysiologist, you will be in a great position to grow your career while working with highly skilled physicians and surgical teams in a variety of clinical settings and locations.

To get you to that point, we offer full-time, salaried employment coupled with a structured and progressive one-year training program that features a combination of classroom work, laboratory practicums, online instruction and practical training in the operating room designed to prepare you for a career in IONM. Upon completion of the training program, associates are board certified and promoted to the second tier of our IONM clinical career ladder.

Learn more by visiting our IONM Careers page for current opportunities.

Click here to view our IONM Training Program.