Fourth-year neurosurgery resident Samuel Jones, MD, recently took care of someone who builds guitars. “They had a brain tumor that affected their ability to do that incredible thing,” he said. “Having an appreciation for the breadth of experience and the value that someone can bring to the world motivates me in my patient care.”

An appreciation for experience and value runs throughout Jones’ residency experience. He is currently the Pediatric Chief. “I model my practice after attendings that I look up to and want to emulate in my practice…people like Dr. Matt Hunt at Southdale Hospital [in Edina, MN], or my mentor, Dr. Tom Bergman, at Hennepin Healthcare [in Minneapolis]. I appreciate their operative styles and that their practices include a blend of everything – from spine to brain tumors to aneurysms – a jack-of-all-trades approach.” (Jones is pictured above performing a spinal fusion at Hennepin Healthcare.)

More about teaching
Jones began his residency in 2018. In the coming academic year, Jones will become a senior resident. “As I go into my senior years of residency, I’m thinking more about teaching,” he said. “For me, some of the best education I have received has been from my senior and chief residents. I want to provide that same education for our incoming and junior residents.”

Practically speaking, according to Jones, a lot of early education was related to patient care – critical care management, how to place an arterial or central line, how to place an external ventricular drain, and when to escalate concerns in critical situations. “For a third-year resident, those skills might include how to do a spinal fusion on your own, or how to do a craniotomy or craniectomy to evacuate a subdural hematoma after a trauma,” he added.

Dr. Samuel Jones

While Jones (pictured here) is not sure whether he will end up in academic or private practice – or something in between – he knows he likes to teach. “In whatever capacity I work in the future, that is something I want to bring to the table,” he said.

Jones reflects on the experiences he has had with all his teachers to understand what kind of a teacher he wants to be. “I have mentored college students to go to medical school and medical school students to go to residency,” he said. “Having done those myself, it’s easier to look back on my experience and understand what I did right that other people can emulate. As I move forward in my career, I hope to do that for students and colleagues in neurosurgery.”

Honing operative skills
While Jones greatly enjoys patient care, the thing that gets him excited every day is the chance to operate. “That is my real motivation to keep going and become an attending,” he said. “Honing my operative skills and patient care is my primary focus. I want to be the best operative surgeon and bedside doctor I can be.”

Thanks to his experience interviewing the 2023-2024 neurosurgery residency candidates, Jones has come to appreciate how nice people are at the U of M. “Neurosurgery is known for its intensity,” he said. “While our program is academically intense, the people in our department make it an enjoyable experience.”

“Do it with people you like”
When Jones was originally looking for a residency, he didn’t think about the fact that his co-residents and attendings would become his chosen family. “You spend most of your life with them,” he said. “If you’re going to do something challenging, you may as well do it with people you like. That is something I’m carrying forward into the rest of my life and my career.”

Jones grew up on a farm in Iowa and because his father was a neuropsychologist, he was exposed to the brain and to thinking about science when he was young. “I came to value working hard and having a tangible impact on the people around me,” he said. “They live all sorts of lives and neurosurgery lets me help them live the lives they want.”