Member Spotlight Interview | Soha N. Ghossaini, MD
Academy member Soha N. Ghossaini, MD, shares insight into her career and volunteer work in otolaryngology.
Soha N. Ghossaini, MD, Private Practice, Queens, New York
Share a little about yourself, your career, and your journey to otolaryngology.
I am board certified in otolaryngology and in neurotology, and I am currently the only otologist/neurotologist in a large, single-specialty private practice in Queens, New York.
My journey started at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where I received my MD and did my otolaryngology residency training. I pursued a two-year clinical otology/neurotology fellowship in at Columbia University College of Physician and Surgeons in New York City, where I then stayed for six years as an assistant professor. As a foreign medical graduate and someone who trained outside the United States, I had to work twice as hard to gain people’s trust. I have to say, however, that I was lucky to be surrounded by mentors and colleagues who believed in me and sponsored me. I must also give credit to my residents who believed in my abilities and were my advocates during my fellowship training and early in my career. After my time at Columbia University, I had the luxury of working at two other academic medical centers—Penn State Hershey Medical Center and University of Illinois at Chicago—before moving to private practice in New York City, which happens to be my favorite place in the U.S. In my current job I continue to have the privilege of working with residents in the operating room, something I cherish a lot. Over the years I have trained and mentored many residents and medical students who later became close friends and colleagues.
I am a member of several other professional organizations, including the American Neurotology Society (ANS), American Otological Society, Triological Society, the North American Skull Base Society, and the American College of Surgeons.
I have been very active at the AAO-HNS/F and with its Board of Governors (BOG) since the early stages of my career. In addition, I try to be active in the other societies I belong. This helps me better serve my patients, my specialty, and my community.
Outside the office, I enjoy outdoor activities, reading, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.
Can you share some information about your practice and the community of patients you serve?
Over the years my practice has been limited to otology/neurotology. Such an experience allowed me to quickly build a busy otology/neurotology private practice in Queens, New York. Making the move to private practice did not deter me from maintaining my academic approach to patient care, which helped me gain the trust of my patients and other referring physicians. I receive referrals for many tertiary-level otology/neurotology cases from my group and other otolaryngologist in the area.
What are your guiding principles for practice and patient care?
My guiding principle for my practice has always been and remains to be striving for patient-centered care. In this day and age of lower reimbursement for our services and the resulting pressure on doctors to do more, it is harder for us to balance between patient care and the business of practicing medicine. Having the patients be my first priority and treating them as I would my own family, helped me find this balance and allows me to recommend the best possible treatment options for them.
What lies ahead for the specialty?
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is and will continue to challenge us and change the way we practice medicine for a very long time. Although such challenges might be different based on type of practice, location, or subspecialty focus, I believe that the greatest opportunity lies in us working together as one to identify new, unforeseen challenges and to address them appropriately. Another opportunity, I believe, lies in exploring how can we make telehealth work for our specialty and advocate for proper reimbursement for such a service even in a post-COVID-19 era.
What international or coalitions are you involved with, and can you describe how the mission and program help further humanitarian and global outreach and advance the specialty.
I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be a member of International Steering Committee at the AAO-HNSF and serve as Co-Regional Advisor for the Middle East. This role has not only taught me about global medicine but helped me foster great relationships with many international otolaryngologists and professional organizations. I work closely with several international corresponding societies to promote joint meetings, which I consider a valuable platform for otolaryngologists around the world to share information. Such shared knowledge helps us better serve our patients. Likewise, I try to arrange for international leaders in their filed to share their knowledge with us at the AAO-HNSF International Symposium during the Annual Meeting.
I was given several opportunities to represent the Academy at the World Health Organization (WHO) meetings, promoting global ear and hearing care in alignment with our Academy’s vision to be the global leader in optimizing quality ear, nose, and throat patient care.
In my role as the BOG Regional Representative for the specialty society I interact with leaders from other specialty societies to join forces on tackling some of the challenges that face our specialty as a whole.
How does your work impact you and communities you serve?
Being involved at the Academy not only helped me be a better physician but helped me gain more insight into the challenges our specialty is facing. Such an experience enables me to deliver the best care possible to my patients and advocate for them at the legislative level.
On a personal level, my work at the Academy exposed me to a larger pool of smart and accomplished colleagues and leaders, some of whom mentored me, others who sponsored me, and still more who helped me weather storms I faced either in my personal life or career.
What would you say to encourage others considering volunteer opportunities with the Academy?
Being involved in the Academy adds another dimension to our lives as otolaryngologists and teaches us how to appreciate what we have as a specialty. I have learned a great deal from the various volunteer opportunities. I would tell my fellow members that getting involved in the Academy is not difficult to do and is rewarding. Most committee meetings and functions are open to all members. By showing up to committees that you are interested in and volunteering to help, even as a visitor, would definitely identify you as a good prospective member for other committees.
I enjoyed and learned from every committee I served on and every position I was fortunate to hold. But if I had to choose, I would say that I am most proud of serving on the International Steering Committee and the BOG due to the higher impact these positions have on furthering the mission and vision of the Academy.