Published on April 13, 2015

5 Questions With: Corinne VanBeek, MD

Corrine Van BeekTell us a little about yourself: What made you want to become a doctor?

As much as I would love to tell a grandiose story reflecting my decision to enter medicine, I was simply quite practical and chose the field with the greatest potential to fulfill my career desires. Medicine promised to consistently challenge me in a variety of ways and offered unparalleled satisfaction and endless opportunities; the latter becomes very important to restless souls like me who quickly get bored with monotony.  The diversity in medicine enabled me to choose a field (orthopaedic surgery) in which my time is shared between the office (diagnosing and treating patients), the operating room (restoring anatomy and function and being technically challenged), and the virtual classroom (mentoring and teaching).

Why did you choose Shoulder and Elbow Surgery within Orthopaedic Surgery?

During my orthopaedic training, I developed a passion for shoulder and elbow surgery.  I see patients of all ages and lifestyles, from teenagers aspiring to be the next MLB pitcher to octogenarians wanting to improve their golf game.  I treat a variety of pathologies, from trauma and fractures around the shoulder and elbow to rotator cuff disorders and arthritis.....and everything in between!  Treatments for these problems range from nonoperative management to surgical interventions involving open and arthroscopic approaches.  Surgical techniques are constantly evolving to improve outcomes in these areas.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

For me, nothing parallels the reward of successfully completing a difficult and technically demanding operation.  It is immensely satisfying.  On a more daily basis, my patients enable me to feel fulfilled.  Everyday, patients entrust themselves to me, to coach them through a difficult period of pain and dysfunction.  I learn about them - their backgrounds, family and personal history, in addition to what is ailing them.  Through nonoperative and operative management courses, we as a team, restore their function and improve their symptoms. 

What is the most common problem you see in your patients?

The most common shoulder and elbow problem I see in my office is rotator cuff pathology.  This ranges from tendonitis without discrete tears to large and massive rotator cuff tears. 

What is one recent advancement in your field that is innovative or integral to your work?

The greatest advancement in shoulder surgery over the past few decades was the introduction of arthroscopy.  Shoulder surgery has undergone a paradigm shift over the past 20 to 30 years, with fewer open (big incision) surgical procedures being performed and more arthroscopic techniques being developed.  We have refined our arthroscopic instrumentation and techniques over the past 20 years or so to improve outcomes.  A more recent advancement in shoulder surgery is orthobiologics.  We are in the phase of investigating the utility of these augments, including PRP (platelet rich plasma), patches, and stem cells, and tracking outcomes with their use.