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Clinical activity 

The Spine section within the UT Southwestern Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has four full-time faculty, including Section Chief Michael Van Hal, M.D., along with Douglas Dickson, M.D.; Kevin Gill, M.D.; and Shaleen Vira, M.D., all of whom provide a significant leadership presence. Currently, Dr. Van Hal serves as Medical Director for the Orthopaedic Spine Services at Parkland, and Dr. Gill serves as Vice Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Collectively, the team provides patient care on the main campus at UT Southwestern, at Parkland, and at UT Southwestern Frisco. In the clinical space, they work with a multidisciplinary team that consists of colleagues from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Anesthesiology and Pain Management, and Neurosurgery. The faculty’s goal when it comes to care is getting patients the right treatment so they can get back to their normal routine as soon as possible. The team accomplishes this goal by performing relatively minimal incisions, when possible, as opposed to large-scale surgeries. 

Scholarly activity 

The Spine section has put in tremendous work when it comes to scholarly activity and novel investigations. Serving as the Director of Spine Surgery Research, Dr. Vira, along with other faculty in the section, leads efforts within and outside UT Southwestern to improve the safety and efficacy of spine surgery. In tandem with the Department of Neurology, this section has built in extensive research efforts. Noteworthy studies have focused on reviewing surgical management and clinical features of spine surgery, minimizing spine surgery risks, and observing patients in the postoperative period. 


The Spine section hosts residents through its spine rotation and has a curriculum that exposes them to clinical and surgical experience. For clinical rotations, residents in their third- and fourth- year experience rotations with this section at Zale Lipshy Pavilion, Clements University Hospital, and Parkland Memorial Hospital, allowing them to gain exposure and robust training experience. Led by Dr. Van Hal, the team has weekly meetings on Thursdays with residents to discuss articles focused on orthopaedic spine issues. Medical students who rotate on spine also attend these meetings.