Adam J. Schwartz, M.D.

  • Consultant, Department of Orthopedic Surgery
  • Assistant Professor of Orthopedics, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

Like many orthopedic surgeons, my interest in this field began when I was younger, after a significant injury I sustained during a baseball practice. After two surgeries and close to a year of rehab, the doctors taking care of me were able to get me back on the field the following season, better than ever.

One of those doctors, Dr. Irwin Shapiro, helped me through that episode and beyond. A now-retired orthopedic surgeon who worked in Arizona for decades, Dr. Shapiro was like a second father to me as I developed more of an interest in becoming a doctor. He allowed me to follow him in the operating room and the clinic, and provided invaluable guidance along the way.

What motivated you to become a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar?

My passion for research began when I was a clinical fellow in adult hip and knee reconstruction at Rush University in Chicago and expanded during my fellowship in orthopedic oncology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). When the opportunity to further hone my research acumen came along, I jumped at the prospect.

My motivation to become a Kern Scholar came primarily from my love of research, but also from my discussions with others who had previously completed the program and relayed to me the positive impact that this program had on their careers.

What is your focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, there's been an explosion of literature investigating the value of total hip and knee arthroplasty. Hip and knee replacement procedures are the most common inpatient surgery for Medicare beneficiaries, and thus it is no surprise that total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is currently a prime target of efforts toward cost reduction and quality improvement.

My focus is on examining the factors that influence both the cost and quality of TJA and developing the research acumen to discern clinically meaningful improvements in patient outcomes from less scientifically rigorous evidence.

What is your mentoring team like?

David A. Etzioni, M.D., is the chair of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery here at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona, and an associate professor in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He received formal training in health services research through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and completed a master's degree in health services at UCLA in 2003.

At Mayo, Dr. Etzioni is involved in quality measurement and improvement at the Arizona campus and across the enterprise. His research and administrative interests are focused on the appropriate analysis, interpretation and reporting of surgical outcomes data.

I have greatly enjoyed working with and learning from Dr. Etzioni. His wealth of experience with study design, grant applications, research methods and data analysis appropriately complement my research interests and career goals.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

Understanding the factors that optimize patient-centered outcomes per health care dollar spent will provide evidence for policymakers to avoid programs and practices that result in arbitrary cost-cutting measures. This research will ultimately serve to incentivize practitioners to provide high-value care and minimize or eliminate low-value care.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

"The needs of the patient come first." Mayo's core value is a very simple, but extraordinarily powerful statement. Indeed, it has impressively withstood all of the vast changes to the United States health care system over the past century.

Like most physicians, I chose a career in medicine to help people, and this remains my passion today. In today's rapidly changing health care environment, I can think of nowhere else I would rather be practicing than at Mayo Clinic, where my personal goals and mission as a physician are so closely aligned with those that drive this institution.