Researcher and Surgeon Has the “Best of All Worlds”

On June 21, 2021

“I enjoyed the Visiting Scholars educational webinars and the chance to interact with national experts. I am especially grateful for the long-term relationships and connections that I made during that time.”

Caitlin W. Hicks, MD, MS | American Board of Surgery
Specialties: Surgery
Vascular Surgery

When she is not traveling the world to exotic locations like the Horn of South America, Caitlin W. Hicks, MD, MS is a world-class vascular surgeon. She also was a member of the 2018-2019 class of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Visiting Scholars Program.

“Being a Visiting Scholar was an incredible opportunity to develop my research skills, including creating metrics for low-value care and generating physician expert panels,” said Dr. Hicks. “My Scholar research is the foundation for much of the work I do today.”

Her research project, A Physician-to-Physician Approach to Reducing Unnecessary Procedures in Vascular Surgery, used Medicare data to identify areas of low-value vascular surgery care, including overuse of procedures and overapplication of interventions.

Dr. Hicks has authored or co-authored textbook chapters and more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed publications, including the following that are related to her work as a Visiting Scholar: Use of Atherectomy During Index Peripheral Vascular Interventions (JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions); Significant physician practice variability in the utilization of endovenous thermal ablation in the 2017 Medicare population (Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders); and Overuse of early peripheral vascular interventions for claudication (Journal of Vascular Surgery).

“The field of medicine allows me to have the best of all worlds,” said Hicks. “I enjoy conducting and sharing research to examine disease risk factors and quality improvement, but it is long-term by nature and requires patience. I also find it incredibly rewarding to take care of my patients and see more immediate, positive outcomes.”

As a surgeon, Dr. Hicks specializes in congenital aortic pathologies including aberrant subclavian arteries and aortic coarctation, thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms, complex lower extremity revascularization including lower extremity bypasses and stenting, and carotid endarterectomy. She is skilled in both open and endovascular surgery for the treatment of aortic and peripheral disease.

Recalling her time as a Visiting Scholar, Dr. Hicks said, “I enjoyed the regular educational webinars and the chance to interact with national experts in health care and policy. I am particularly grateful for the connections and long-term relationships that I made during that time.”

2018–2019, from left: Victoria Wurster Ovalle, MD; Brenessa Lindeman, MD, MEHP; Brian George, MD, MA; Kevin Cullison, MD; Caitlin Hicks, MD, MS; and Amy Cizik, PhD, MPH. Not pictured: Rodney Omron, MD, MPH

What’s next? Dr. Hicks will continue her clinical work with patients while conducting critical research into quality improvement issues and disease risk factors. She received the 2021 George H. A. Clowes, Jr., MD, FACS, Memorial Research Career Development Award from the American College of Surgeons. Her project, “A Peer-Based Benchmarking Approach for Reducing Unnecessary Procedures in Vascular Surgery,” will be funded from 2021 to 2026. Dr. Hicks was recently granted a K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health on epidemiology and risk factors for diabetic neuropathy.

Named to the ABMS Stakeholder Council in 2018, Dr. Hicks will continue working to ensure that the decisions of the ABMS Board of Directors are grounded in an understanding of the perspectives, concerns and interests of the multiple constituents impacted by their work. “I have always valued board certification as a way to help establish the standards at which physicians practice, and I am pleased to be able to share my perspective with the Board as it creates policies that impact diplomates and patients.”

Dr. Hicks received her medical degree from Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and was a surgical resident and vascular surgery fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Hicks is Associate Professor of Surgery and the Director of Research for the Johns Hopkins Multidisciplinary Diabetic Foot and Wound Center of Excellence, and the Associate Fellowship Program Director of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy Fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Read more about the Visiting Scholars program.

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