Back and Spine; Brain

Specialist spotlight: Paging Dr. Kathryn Hoes

Back and Spine; Brain

Kathryn Hoes, M.D., is a neurosurgeon who specializes in complex spine disorders. She is part of the spine team at UT Southwestern Frisco.

Spend a few minutes with Kathryn Hoes, and chances are you’ll feel calmer. More centered.

Her voice is soft and soothing. Her words are slow and purposeful. And her eyes never stray far from yours.

As a neurosurgeon who specializes in complex spine disorders, Dr. Hoes' list of credentials is considerable. She was chief resident of her neurosurgery unit at UT Southwestern – in a specialty primarily made up of men. Only 12% of neurosurgeons in the U.S. are women, according to the American Board of Neurological Surgery. She also received advanced training in spine surgery through a fellowship at Indiana University and has a master’s degree in biomedical sciences. 

But her gift for empathy can be as valuable as any surgical skill she learned in medical school.

Watching her with patients now, you’d never guess when she arrived at UT Southwestern eight years ago, she was a “fast-talking Jersey girl” who now enjoys the pace and polite nature of just about everyone she meets in Texas.

“Dr. Kat” is part of the talented Spine Center team at UT Southwestern Frisco, which opened Dec. 3. Let’s get to know a bit more about her.

What drew you to the complex specialties of neurology and spinal surgery?

“Coming into medical school (at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson), I was interested in many different things. Infectious diseases… radiology… Ob/Gyn. Neurosurgery was my last elective surgical rotation, but I loved it so much I couldn’t see myself in any other field. I could treat everybody – young and old, men and women. I could do things of macroscopic scale, such as the big spine surgeries I do now, or something microscopic and delicate such as an aneurysm. The specialty just fit, so I decided to go for it. Now I can’t imagine anything fitting more.”

Get to know 'Dr. Kat'

UT Southwestern neurosurgeon Kathryn Hoes, M.D., joins Lifestyle Frisco host Wendi McGowan-Ellis to discuss the new medical campus in Frisco and how the spine center there will bring the latest in medical treatment and technology to the growing community.

When did you first know you wanted to be a doctor?

“My first experience in medicine was as a 16-year-old high school student. I needed a summer job, so I started working at a local family practice in New Jersey.  Those doctors were great. They took me under their wing.”

When did you come to Texas?

“I came to UT Southwestern specifically for the training program in 2011. I didn’t really have much exposure to Texas before that with the exception of a one-month sub-internship as a medical student. I found the little things about Texas culture fascinating. Knowing that people wanted to say hi, expected you to say hi back, and that the person in the grocery story really does care how you’re feeling - that was special.  This is now my eighth year working with my UT Southwestern colleagues.”

Have you been told you have a calming effect on people?

“I wish I had a nickel for every time … Maybe I was a yogi in another life (laughing). I tend to calm people down in cases of extreme anxiety. I try to see who and what’s in front of me. Sometimes I’m a little slower in clinic because I like to sit down and spend the time with patients that they need. I would want someone to do that for me.”

Finish this sentence: ‘If I weren’t a doctor, I would be a …’

Chef!  I love cooking and putting together a meal. I’m getting into pastas and breads lately. I have an ice cream maker and two InstantPots! I’m here (at work) a lot, but when I go home it’s fun to play in my kitchen. 

What do you think about UT Southwestern opening in Frisco?

“I think it’s phenomenal. I’m honored to be part of the inaugural team to go there. The facility will be taking things to the next step in terms of innovation. I’m looking forward to partnering with primary care doctors in the community and being at the forefront of the growth in DFW.”

What types of patients will you be treating in the spine clinic in Frisco?

“I suspect the initial set of patients will be people with pain disorders of the neck or back pain – people that might benefit from a discectomy or a simple decompression, for example. Once people realize who we are, and that we treat the full gamut of spine pathology, I suspect we will see tumors, vascular pathology, complex deformity, adult scoliosis, and other challenging cases. We can handle them all under the UT Southwestern aegis.”

What advanced technologies will you have at UT Southwestern Frisco?

“We will have intraoperative navigated spine capabilities, which allow us to visualize the spine in three dimensions while we’re working on it. This helps with any instrumentation that goes into the spine, as well as with decompression surgery and advanced reconstructive techniques. We view a CT scan on a monitor in real time, so it’s a live roadmap. A spine GPS, if you would.  It can make the procedure more accurate and reduce complications.”

Do most back problems require surgery?

“The first thing I tell people is that I like to work from the least invasive, most conservative treatment on a spectrum up to more aggressive measures. I will be working very closely with our PM&R (physical medicine and rehabilitation) and Anesthesia colleagues to make sure patients have exhausted all conservative treatment modalities before they need a surgical consult. As we become part of the community, I hope that patients will trust in our care and know we’re not just interested in doing big surgeries. Our Spine Center, part of the multidisciplinary care model at UT Southwestern, will treat the whole person.”