Dr. J Alex Thomas, a Pioneer in Single Position Spinal Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery can be life-changing but it is also incredibly delicate work on a sensitive, central organ. For Dr. Thomas, these challenges presented an opportunity for innovation: to reduce OR time, decrease risks, and improve patient outcomes. And what he discovered has changed spinal surgery around the world. 

Dr. Thomas, is an expert in minimally invasive spinal surgery, having received his Doctor of Medicine from Georgetown University and completed his neurosurgical residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Thomas likes to say that minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is the only type of spinal surgery you should ever have. It can be faster, safer, and require less recovery than traditional methods because of reduced impact to muscles and soft tissues. With MIS, patients often benefit from reduced risks of complications: muscle damage, infection, and postoperative pain. 

However, even within the specialized field of minimally invasive spinal surgery, Dr. Thomas believed that there was room for improvement. He questioned the lengthy OR times for spinal fusion surgeries, submitting patients unnecessarily to hours of anesthesia. And he wasn’t a fan of the original surgical method that required “flipping” the patient multiple times in the procedure to insert equipment. 

What if the oxygen tube was inadvertently pulled out from a sleeping patient? Or their IV? 

Dr. Thomas believed the solution was lateral single-position surgery, in which spinal fusion is performed on the front and back of the spine while the patient remains lying on their side. No more flipping. No more hours in the OR: lateral single-position surgery cut spinal fusion surgery down to 90 minutes or less. 

And shorter OR times are not only good news for surgeons. By dramatically reducing the time that a patient spends under anesthesia, Dr. Thomas found that his method led to decreased patient risks and better outcomes. 

But like all revolutionaries, when Dr. Thomas and his colleagues first shared their discoveries at conferences and publications for the spinal MIS community six years ago, they were met with some (read: a lot of) resistance. But, thankfully, Dr. Thomas isn’t one to give up so easily. From his home base, Atlantic Brain and Spine, in Wilmington, NC Dr. Thomas continued to pursue groundbreaking results for his patients using lateral single-position surgery for spinal fusion. And slowly, but surely, the rest of the world caught on. 

Most recently, Dr. Thomas’s now world-renowned efforts were published in a special issue of the European Spine Journal: Single Position Spine Surgery. Not only was he invited to write the introduction for the entire issue, but he also authored seven articles on the subject to share his expertise with the wider medical community. Dr. Thomas’s articles cover everything from laying out the conceptual framework for the surgery to technical considerations and individualized patient needs. 

The rest of the articles in the series reflect the global success of Dr. Thomas’s ground-breaking surgical method–as researchers and surgeons around the world have introduced lateral single position spinal surgery into their practice and analyzed the intricacies of the positive results. 
Despite his renown in the medical community, Dr. Thomas is known by his patients for successful surgeries and his down-to-earth bedside manner. Sure he can write seven articles about lateral single-position spinal surgery in “medicalese.” But he can also explain the whole thing in layman’s terms, expertly guiding patients through the decision-making process–the first steps towards an improved quality of life.

Neurosurgical Physician Assistant Opening

Atlantic Brain and Spine is seeking a Physician Assistant (or SFA-NP) motivated to learn new skills and take on the challenge of continuing to reinforce and build a solid practice platform with our experienced neurosurgeons. Our growing practice employs 6 neurosurgeons, 11 Physician Assistants/Nurse Practitioners. 

What sets our practice apart? The makeup of our surgical group includes the only endovascular neurosurgeon in our region, a world leader in lateral access exposures, and one of the top robotic lateral spine surgeons in the country also assisting with robotic improvement projects. Our surgeons have ongoing exposure to new ideas, equipment and technique advancements, and embrace the challenge to be on the cutting edge of neurosurgical technology. 

Who is a good fit? This job is fast paced and requires a candidate willing to take on the challenge of learning the specifics of Endovascular Neurosurgery both on and off the job during their introductory period. Call requires 48- or 72-hour rotation (M/T; W/R; F/S/S), with additional compensation per day. Candidates should be invested in patient satisfaction and providing a good customer service model. New graduates welcome to apply. The ideal candidate will work to maintain constant communication with their attending, being an integral piece in executing the patient’s plan of care. 

Work Schedule: Full-time. M-F and 1 weekend every 6 weeks /1:6 Call ratio

Required Qualifications:

  • Graduate of an accredited Physician Assistant Program
  • Current Board Certification
  • Current North Carolina License Preferred
  • Critical Care training/experience
  • Desired knowledge/experience Neurosurgery/Neurology/Orthopedic Spine Surgery
  • Current prescribing privileges including a DEA license for controlled substances
  • Competent in viewing MRI, CT, radiology films used during the medical decision-making process

Practice Requirements:

  • Hospital arrival by 6:45 am M-F plus call days
  • Surgery Schedule 2-3 days per week
  • Clinic days 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, 2-3 days per week; close early on Fridays. 
  • Primary Call: Responsible for taking first call, patient consults, and acting as surgical first assist. Must be within a 30-minute travel radius when on call to NHRMC


  • Health Insurance 
  • Dental & Vision Insurance
  • 401(k) 
  • Voluntary benefits 
  • CME allowance
  • Dues & Memberships 
  • PTO

Full Time Front Desk

Role and Responsibilities

The medical office assistant will have a minimum of one-year experience and be an integral part of the patient care team. This is a full-time position, and will handle the use of confidential information. This position will cross cover between check-in and check-out. Primary duties are as follows:

  • Greet patients and visitors, in person or on the telephone
  • Registration of patient accounts
  • Process outgoing referrals
  • Scheduling of patient appointments
  • Payment collections and postings
  • Optimizes patient’s satisfaction, provider time and treatment room utilization by scheduling appointments
  • Notifying providers and clinical staff of patient’s arrival
  • Scanning medical records in the EMR, including but not limited to paper documents and CD images
  • Protects patient’s rights by maintaining confidentiality of personal and financial information
  • Maintain the cleanliness of the reception area
  • Additional duties as assigned

Qualifications and Education Requirements

High School Degree or GED required; and one year of customer service experience. Excellent customer service skills, strong written and verbal communication skills required.

Preferred Skills

One-year of medical front office experience a plus. Associates degree preferred.

Salary: $14.00 – $19.00 per hour


  • 401(k)
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Health savings account
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Vision insurance

    Career Opportunities