Member Spotlight: John Villanueva, MD

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Dr. John Villanueva is a Board-Certified Physician in Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) practicing in Burbank, CA. He is the co-founder of Innovative Pain and Spine Physicians, which focuses on the multi-disciplinary approach of treating pain from a variety of disease processes including neck and back spinal conditions, complex regional pain syndrome, joint disease, and chronic pain from spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, cancer, and other medical conditions. His comprehensive treatment of pain includes an in-depth investigation of the root causes that could be contributing to their pain and associated symptoms and neuro deficits.

Dr. Villanueva achieves excellent outcomes through effective communication, a methodical medical history, and pertinent physical exam, and ensuring that the patient understands their condition and treatment options. As a skilled Pain Management Interventionalist, Dr. Villanueva is proficient in performing soft tissue and joint injections (under ultrasound guidance if necessary), fluoroscopic guided neck and back injections, and minimally invasive interventions (spinal cord and/or nerve neuromodulation) if indicated. He has also had extensive training in electrodiagnostic nerve conduction and Electromyography (EMG) studies for evaluating injuries to the peripheral and central nervous system.

Outside of work, he is a highly accomplished musician (pianist and vocalist since age 4), volunteers in social justice advocacy groups, participate in free clinics and medical missions, and keeps a healthy lifestyle of exercising and all the outdoor activities sunny Southern California has to offer. He also volunteers with the Cornell Alumni Club of Los Angeles encouraging local underprivileged youth to pursue higher education and professional careers.

Coupled with his excellent diagnostic and interventional skills, Dr. Villanueva is best known by his patients and staff for his disarming demeanor and friendly smile. He treats every patient with respect regardless of their socio-economic background by listening empathetically and treating them as a whole person with the goal of returning them to optimal function.

LACMA asked Dr. Villanueva a few questions about what excites him about medicine and the future of healthcare.

What excites you about practicing medicine?

I am excited about being part of a profession focused on helping others regardless of circumstance and on facilitating people to lead healthier and therefore happier lives. As a Pain Medicine and PM&R specialist, every day, I get to help people improve their functional level and quality of their life and make them stronger. Nothing is more rewarding and I cannot imagine a more fulfilling job.

What need motivated you to join LACMA and CMA, and has your membership helped you address that need?

I saw and appreciated what LACMA was all about: community and creating a conversation about what is important and pertinent to physicians in the healthcare system. I am new to the practice and I attended the Saving Private Practice Consortium in July 2017. I was impressed with the professional assistance I received to help get my practice up and running. From staffing to reimbursement resources, I joined, in part, to take advantage of the variety of benefits. Because of my membership, I was able to get a practice management expert to come to my office and assess our operation. She was very helpful and that came as a benefit of my membership. I know many of LACMA’s partners offer free assessments for members, which is fantastic--that alone can more than makeup for the cost of my dues.

Additionally, I take comfort in knowing that, as a member of LACMA and CMA, there is a whole team of experts who are passionate about working on behalf of physicians to protect the practice of medicine. Being in private practice makes all the difference to me and my patients. I can better customize treatments, control my time and decide what is best for patients. It is hard, however, when you are distracted by constantly changing regulations, the insurance company runarounds, and all of the bureaucracy that comes along with running a business. LACMA and CMA help me take care of that. Being a member gives me the opportunity to insert myself into the conversation and advocate for issues that help me sustain my private practice.

From your standpoint, what does the future of private practice look like?

Many people I talk to about this topic all seem very pessimistic about the future of private practice due to the rise of restrictions and government regulations that demand more and more from physicians. However, I am one of the few that believe that the future of private practice is bright because of organizations like LACMA and CMA, who make it their priority to assist physicians with their own private practice.

What advice can you give medical students attempting to decide between private practice and large group settings?

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Organizations like LACMA and CMA provide you with resources that can make it easy for you to be informed and prepared for your future, regardless of what mode of practice you are interested in.