Surgeon Paul Shuler, MD, Finds Independent Practice Allows Him to Provide the Best Care
Paul F. Shuler MD, an independent practitioner and founder of Provident Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center and also practicing at the SportsMedicine Institute located behind the South Lake Hospital, was born with a club foot that was casted before his parents took him home from the hospital. The physician he saw the most growing up was an orthopedic surgeon.
"I had an interest in medicine from my childhood," Shuler said.
Shuler graduated Summa Cum Laude from Michigan Technological University with a degree in electrical engineering. After working for General Motors for several years, he returned in 1992 to med school, earning his MD with honors from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Lansing, Mich. He then completed an affiliated general surgical internship and orthopedic surgical residency in Michigan.
Throughout his career in orthopedics he has always looked for techniques and technology that can improve his patients' experience and outcomes.
"It requires discernment at times to understand what can be a benefit and not just jump on every new and high-profile offering," Shuler said. "Robotic arm assisted surgery truly appears to offer greater precision and reproducibility for select patients and procedures.
I have also integrated into my practice the lateral approach for total knee replacement and anterior approach for hip replacement. These techniques spare the muscles and allow rapid recovery of function making it easier for patients to go home the same day as their joint replacement surgery."
Shuler has chosen to remain an independent physician which gives him greater latitude to provide the best care possible.
"For me, the reasons to maintain an independent practice line up with the reasons I chose to go into medicine in the first place," Shuler said. "Being independent provides me the best opportunity to solve the problems my patients face without competing interests. By definition it would seem physicians who are not in an independent practice are beholden to their employing entity. Consequently, they may experience pressures to place other priorities on their decisions other than the patient's best interest."
Studies show that many physicians have been forced to spend more time with computers than patients. There are also challenges with declining reimbursement, increased regulatory burden, patients who are unable to afford the care they need and an increasing pace of change.
"Independent practices are best positioned to advocate for the patients and provide care which is aligned with the patient's best interest," Shuler said. "Orthopedic surgery is at a time of transition. Medicare has approved outpatient joint replacement and a growing number of our patients do not require hospital-based care. I believe this shift to outpatient care for an ever-greater number of surgical conditions provides us as physicians with both opportunity and obligation. We have an obligation to make sure that we understand how to identify patients for whom outpatient surgery provides improved care without increased risk. We have an opportunity to gain a greater voice in managing the patient care continuum. It is my hope that we can use this greater voice to encourage alignment of health systems and insurance companies to focus on high-quality cost-effective care."
Shuler and his wife, Pam, have four children. He is a very outdoors person and loves to downhill ski and water ski when he can fit those in as a private practitioner.