Dr. Michael Lawton’s First Class of Barrow Residents: Arnau Benet, MD
Twenty years after completing his neurosurgery residency at Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Michael Lawton has returned to succeed his former chairman, Dr. Robert Spetzler. He now oversees Barrow’s 28 neurosurgery residents—the largest neurosurgery program in the United States.
We spoke to the four first-year residents who will train under Dr. Lawton and the rest of the Barrow neurosurgery faculty for the next seven years. Below is a portion of our interview with Arnau Benet, MD.
Dr. Benet received his medical degree from the University of Barcelona in Spain, where he taught neuroanatomy courses for his fellow medical students and studied neurosurgical techniques in his own cadaver laboratory. He then worked with Dr. Lawton for several years at UCSF, serving as director of the skull base and cerebrovascular laboratory.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in neurosurgery?
“When I learned about the brain, I was kind of taken by the beautiful functions that you can localize in different parts of the brain. I always liked to do things with my hands. I love the technical aspect of anything. I really did not know what cerebrovascular surgery was until I saw Dr. Lawton in action, and that was an awakening moment for me professionally. I found my true passion within the passion of neurosurgery. I think I align very much with my mentor Dr. Lawton in the essence of why we love cerebrovascular. It’s challenging, it’s technically extremely demanding, and it takes courage. The anatomy is pristine and beautiful in cerebrovascular cases.”
What do you hope to accomplish in your medical career?
“I think that with my expertise and my true passion for teaching surgical anatomy, the next step is having Barrow be the cathedral for teaching subspecialized neurosurgery. So, not only would it be a place for neurosurgeon referrals for patients who have very complex conditions but also for the neurosurgical community—neurosurgeons who want to excel technically. I think the role I can play is in creating that environment in a surgical technique laboratory, where neurosurgeons can find all the tools they need to transform themselves and their practice—wherever it is in the world—to the next level.”
Why did you rank Barrow as your top choice for your residency?
“I think I have a strong idea of what I want to do with my career, and that’s following Dr. Lawton’s steps and becoming an open cerebrovascular surgeon who takes advantage of anatomical mastery and technical excellence. That, mixed with a huge volume of experience, is something only Barrow and Dr. Lawton’s practice can offer.”
How do you feel about being in Dr. Lawton’s first class of residents here at Barrow and starting your residency in this new era for the institute?
“I’ve been Dr. Lawton’s mentee since 2012 when he got me the opportunity to go to UCSF. It gives me continuity. This is even more powerful than starting over. I’m able to continue with the person who’s transformed my professional aspirations.”
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