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DECEMBER 2022 ENT Newsletter

A Letter from the Chair

I recently had the rewarding experience of attending one of my favorite conferences with several hundred of my otolaryngology education peers. We met in person for the first time in two years. I made new friends, discussed ways to improve resident education and simply experienced an explosion of good ideas. It was a welcome return to former face-to-face practices where we could share a handshake and build trust with each other. For me, there will always be an extra benefit to meeting in person, getting and giving your undivided attention and sharing a meal and conversation together. The combined conference of the Society of University Otolaryngologists, Head & Neck Surgeons (SUO), Association of Academic Departments of Otolaryngology (AADO) and Otolaryngology Program Directors Organization (OPDO) is a great meeting where educators come together to discuss pertinent academic topics as it relates to departmental development, with a focus on education of our medical students, residents and fellows. I have now been a member of this organization for almost 20 years and have been to almost all the meetings during that time.

Nice to meet you, face to face

Mas Takashima, MD, FACS
I initially became involved with the organization in 2003 when I helped them register and develop the domain, OPDO wasn’t even in the web address because OPDO had not been created as an organization at the time. In 2008, OPDO was spearheaded by Christine Franzese, MD, of Columbia, Missouri, and I was fortunate to have been part of the original OPDO council as this organization continued to develop. Resident education is and has been a passion of mine, and this organization brought Program Directors in Otolaryngology from across the country together – a much needed resource. I have had the opportunity to lecture and be part of panels through the years, being able to impart my experiences of 15 years as Program Director and Vice Chair of Education at Baylor College of Medicine, along with what I have learned as Chair of the Department at Houston Methodist. My departmental educational team will always support and attend this meeting to continue to provide the best educational opportunities for our learners. This recent in-person meeting a few weeks ago reminded me of what we’ve been missing in the last two years with our virtual and hybrid meetings. In-person meetings bring nuance, social signals, body language and personality that we can’t see in a flatscreen. You get a nod and an invitation to go on when an idea is hitting home. Likewise, you can fall flat when you’re off track. In my recent conference, we easily identified those who could help us solve problems or find new answers. We gravitated toward each other and talked candidly – no recordings, please. Before the quarantine caused by COVID-19, our society already was blowing up with social media options, new technology and virtual communications. Some of this would have happened anyway, I suspect. Virtual and hybrid meetings of both in-person and virtual attendees are useful. They are cost-effective, save time, can happen quickly and easily bring together participants from all parts of the country and the world. Many of us now feel more comfortable meeting online, having been forced to use virtual options for two years. This year, residency interviews and oral exams will continue to be held virtually. At Houston Methodist, we have state-of-the-art facilities, high-tech equipment, hands-on experts and unique settings, but it’s hard to show these advantages in a virtual interview. Can candidates get “a feel” for the city-within-a-city that is the Texas Medical Center without coming for an in-person visit? A concerning statistic that may be an outcome of the virtual interview process is that more first- and second-year residents resigned their positions during this past year. I suspect some of this is because medical students ended up in an unexpected place for residency, unable to discern the culture of the institution, because they did not have the in-person experience of the interview. Fortunately, at Houston Methodist, we have some of the world’s top experts helping with the process to find our new residents for the Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. Methodist Institute for Robotics, Imaging & Navigation (MIRIN), an arm of the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIE), is working with educators to bring more interactive options to the resident interview process. MIRIN’s work eventually will include more extended and augmented reality features as part of the MITIE-verse to personalize virtual interactions, such as the online interview process. The medical profession and society in general learned a lot about ourselves and our society during COVID and the pandemic. Some of what we learned is in the smaller day-to-day details, like meetings. In my case, I’ll take mine in person when I can.
In the course of advancing resident education in a new department in the largest medical center in the world, among generations of experts, visionaries and leaders, my goals must be intentional, well considered and ultimately successful.
in the news

Departmental Spotlight

Ayde Trejo says she learned from scratch how to organize and ultimately get on the road to approval for the new residency program for Houston Methodist Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery as well as approval of fellowships in otolaryngology and facial plastics.

Jones 10 Nurses Receive Prestigious PRISM Award

The nurses on Jones 10, who care for Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery patients, have received the PRISM award, a prestigious award granted to medical surgery units. The team made the highest score in the history of the award.
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Residents from across TMC get hands-on instruction at first endoscopic sinus surgery course

The Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery presented the first citywide sinus course, attended by residents and faculty from several hospitals in the Texas Medical Center. A 3D cadaver model was piloted in the course.
Feature story

Innovations keep pace with changing needs in Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery

Houston Methodist’s Division of Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery within the Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery has established a program that is unique as well as comprehensive with its vision for growth and development.
I get to take advantage of decades of advances and research that allow the same operations to be done safer, less invasively and with better results than even just years ago. As modern surgeons, we are the direct beneficiaries of practicing in an era where these tools are at our direct fingertips both literally and figuratively
Joshua Kain, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery for Weill Cornell Medical College
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