A Leader of Leaders: Dr. Quest at the Annual AANS Conference

Jun. 24, 2016

Dr. Donald Quest speaking at the annual AANS conference.

This year, “leadership” was the theme of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ (AANS) annual meeting. Spine Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Quest was in attendance—fittingly enough, in a variety of key leadership roles.

Dr. Quest is known for his dedication to educating and mentoring fellow neurosurgeons, residents and medical students. He is a professor of neurosurgery at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and in 2003 he was appointed an Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. (Advisory Deans provide students with academic, career and personal support and act as liaisons between students and the faculty and administration.)

In 2012, Dr. Quest’s commitment to developing the neurosurgeons of tomorrow led him to be inducted into the Apgar Academy, which is dedicated to “promoting, rewarding and supporting outstanding medical education.”

So it was natural for him to serve as faculty for a new AANS course that focused on developing the neurosurgical leaders of tomorrow. Course participants ranged from junior neurosurgeons to newly appointed department chairs.

Participants had to be nominated for attendance by their organizational seniors for both outstanding achievement and great leadership potential. Course attendees received the benefit of Dr. Quest’s years of experience educating and inspiring new leaders.

And participants in the leadership course weren’t the only ones at AANS to benefit from Dr. Quest’s commitment to mentorship and education. The AANS has also named a set of awards after Dr. Quest—the Donald O. Quest Science Awards—to honor his commitment to outstanding medical education.

Each year at the Young Neurosurgeons Research Forum, four Quest Awards are given out to the authors of top-scoring abstracts (sections of scientific papers) in four categories:

• Basic science abstract from a resident or fellow
• Basic science abstract from a medical student
• Clinical abstract from a resident or fellow
• Clinical abstract from a medical student

But don’t get the wrong idea: Dr. Quest isn’t all seriousness. Elsewhere at AANS, he delivered a personable introduction for current AANS President Dr. H. Hunt Batjer, welcoming Dr. Batjer to the stage to deliver the annual presidential address to thousands of neurosurgeons. (He has a history of leadership here, too—this is actually the second time Dr. Quest has been asked to introduce an AANS presidential address.)

In his introduction, Dr. Quest included pictures of the AANS president as a young father (wearing scrubs at his desk, smiling at the baby on his knee), as a baseball player (drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, left-handed pitcher) and even as a baby (looking resigned to wearing a bunny costume).

Dr. Quest playing trombone at AANS 2016.
Dr. Quest playing trombone at the 2016 AANS Conference.

And of course Dr. Quest capped his leadership activities at the leadership-themed conference by leading everyone in song. His annual trombone performance is always a huge hit, and this year was no different.

Thanks, Dr. Quest!

Learn more about Dr. Quest on his bio page here.

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