Published: September 1, 2023

Reflections on Education

Tireless efforts and dedication has led AAO-HNSF education to be ranked the top provider of CME/MOC otolaryngology education by the ACCME.

Jeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMM, AAO-HNSF Coordinator for Education with introduction by Tirza Lofgreen, CHCP, Senior Director, Professional Education & Digital Learning, AAO-HNSF

Jeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMMJeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMMWith Gratitude: We are grateful the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) education has been led by outstanding leaders. Jeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMM, Coordinator for Education is no exception. For the past four years, he has led the Foundation’s Professional Development & Digital Learning team, Education Steering Committee (ESC), and oversaw all nine AAO-HNSF Education Committees, with over 250 volunteer physician members.

Through his hard work, AAO-HNSF education has been ranked the number one top provider of CME/MOC otolaryngology education by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). Offerings, enrollments, and engagement have risen each year during Dr. Simons’ term, especially as many sought online otolaryngology resources and education during the pandemic.

Meredith Merz Lind, MDMeredith Merz Lind, MDIn this article of the Bulletin, many of these accomplishments are highlighted. We also have a change in leadership with Dr. Simons finishing his term as Coordinator for Education at the conclusion of the AAO-HNSF 2023 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in Nashville, Tennessee, September 30 – October 4. Meredith Merz Lind, MD, will be assuming this leadership role following the Annual Meeting to begin her term, which spans from 2023 to 2027. Look for more in the October Bulletin as Dr. Simons introduces Dr. Lind as she shares her vision and priorities for AAO-HNSF education over the next four years.

The AAO-HNSF thanks Dr. Simons for his tireless efforts and devotion to Foundation education.

Reflections on the Past Four Years

It is hard to believe my term as AAO-HNSF Coordinator for Education is coming to a close. Throughout my career in academic otolaryngology, I have been devoted to excellence in patient care, education, research, and service, but a significant amount of my focus has been on otolaryngology education, mentorship, and leadership.

I have been actively involved in otolaryngology education on a national level since I was a resident, first as a member of the AAO-HNSF Core Otolaryngology Education Faculty, followed by many years as a member of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Education Committee (POEC). I served as Chair of the POEC from 2015 to 2019 prior to assuming the role of Coordinator for Education. Suffice to say, AAO-HNSF education is core to my mission.

I became Coordinator for Education in September 2019. Six months later, the pandemic hit. I was faced with the unforeseen challenge of how to collaborate with seven full-time employees on the AAO-HNSF Professional Development & Digital Learning team, lead the Education Steering Committee (ESC), and oversee all nine AAO-HNSF Education Committees, with over 250 volunteer physician members in the COVID era.

Despite all the difficulties that we all had to overcome during the pandemic, both personally and professionally, with confidence I can attest that the Foundation staff, ESC, and members of the Education Committees did not skip a beat. Participation in our virtual meetings was strong, and the meetings were productive and engaging. Zoom bolstered our ability to connect, collaborate, and be inspired by our work after relying for a long time on conference calls and email exchanges to develop education products.

Successful and innovative initiatives

A number of successful and innovative initiatives were developed under my leadership. For example, when I took over the reins from Richard V. Smith, MD, Immediate Past Coordinator for Education at that time, my role was to implement the successor product to the Home Study Course, which had been around for nearly four decades. This new flagship education product, FLEX (Focused Lifelong Education Xperience), launched in September 2020. For the past three years, AAO-HNSF education has released eight specialty sections each year. The Education Committee members have become “FLEX-pert” faculty and have done a remarkable job. AAO-HNSF education went from producing eight sections of the Home Study Course over two years with only one way to learn—to eight sections annually, creating more than 80 multimodality products in a one-year subscription package. Also notable was the significant increase in faculty opportunities from 30 volunteers with the Home Study Course—to 150 faculty creating FLEX annually.

I have also been particularly focused on embracing new paradigms for medical education and increasing the use of simulation and gamification. At this year’s AAO-HNSF 2023 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in Nashville, Tennessee, you will see the largest offering of Simulation Education that has come forward from the Simulation Education Committee (SIMEC) under the leadership of Katherine Kavanagh, MD, Chair, and the members of the committee. I also had the privilege of working with Kelly Michele Malloy, MD, Immediate Past Chair of the SIMEC, who made many positive contributions to enhancing Simulation Education and the perennial events held at the Annual Meeting such as SIM Tank, Simulation Reception and Showcase, and the Worst-Case Scenarios: Managing OTO Emergencies Workshop. We also developed a template for serious gamesand we intend to create more gamification courses available in OTO Logic in the future. If you have not had an opportunity to view the first serious game developed on “Complex Airway Management Simulation,” it is available in OTO Logic (free for members).

Throughout my career, I have been devoted to the promotion of inclusive diversity and equity. As Coordinator for Education, I have appointed physicians from underrepresented groups to leadership roles on the Education Committees and ensured that the committees represent a broad spectrum of age, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. I have also required that all Education Committee members participate in implicit bias and cultural sensitivity training.

I have also truly enjoyed a collaborative relationship with the Annual Meeting Program Coordinator, Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD. We have worked together to ensure that there is integration and alignment of all the AAO-HNSF education programs, including enduring education products and education from meetings. This joint effort also includes providing a comprehensive list of practice gaps across the specialty to promote to those submitting session abstracts and proposals for the Call for Science every year.

During my term, we have also had a number of collaborative initiatives with the American Board of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Notably was the rebuild of the Board’s Self-Assessment Modules for MOC, a library of nearly 70 clinical and practice management topics. These modules were reviewed, updated, and redesigned by the AAO-HNSF Education Committees and now provide CME that counts toward MOC. We also have an ongoing Joint CME Accreditation for CERTLink™ by providing participating diplomates 10 CME/MOC credits for successful completion each year. In addition, to support and enhance each item written for Certlink, AAO-HNSF has provided since the inception of the program a list of education activities and resources available in OTO Logic, the AAO-HNSF online otolaryngology learning network.

The Future of Education: New Otolaryngology Core Curriculum

In the August Bulletin, James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO, wrote an article on (The Best) Knowledge Matters. I encourage you to read it if you have not already had an opportunity to do so. Dr. Denneny unveils the creation of the Otolaryngology Core Curriculum (OCC)—a new standardized, unified curriculum to support otolaryngology residents in training. This exciting new product is scheduled to launch in July 2024. AAO-HNSF education will be collaborating with an Otolaryngology Core Curriculum Editorial Board chosen by the academic otolaryngology community. As your Immediate Past-Coordinator for Education, I am excited to be serving as the Director of the Otolaryngology Core Curriculum for the AAO-HNSF. Dr. Lind, as Coordinator for Education, will be overseeing the module development with the Education Steering Committee and members across the nine Education Committees. I assure you that with Dr. Lind in this leadership role, our specialty’s education programs are in great hands. We look forward to developing this new education curriculum to serve the needs of all otolaryngology residents and our specialty in general.

Thank you to all who have helped us to keep education at the core of our mission. It has been an absolute privilege and honor to have served as your Coordinator for Education these past four years.

I would like to especially acknowledge and extend my gratitude to the following Education Steering Committee leaders for their dedication and service during their term as Chair of their respective committees.

AAO-HNSF Education Steering Committee

Education Steering Committee
Jeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMM, Chair
Meredith Merz Lind, MD, Chair-elect

Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Education Committee
Daniel Knott, MD, Chair

General Otolaryngology and Sleep Medicine Education Committee
Cristina Cabrera-Muffly, MD, Chair

Head and Neck Surgery Education Committee
 Vikas Mehta, MD, MPH, Chair

Laryngology and Bronchoesophagology Education Committee
Paul C. Bryson, MD, MBA, Chair 

Otology and Neurotology Education Committee
Maura Cosetti, MD, Chair

Pediatric Otolaryngology Education Committee
Meredith Merz Lind, MD, Chair 

Practice Management Education Committee
Betty S. Tsai Do, MD, Chair

Rhinology and Allergy Education Committee
Zara M. Patel, MD, Chair

Simulation Education Committee
Katherine Kavanagh, MD, Chair

FLEX Curriculum Chair
Stacey T. Gray, MD

Content Curation Workgroup
Cristina Baldassari, MD

Item Writing: OTO Quest Knowledge Assessment
Catherine K. Hart, MD

Faculty Development
David M. Cognetti, MD

Building Education for the Profession

Here are some of our accomplishments this year. 

The AAO-HNSF’s flagship education product, FLEX—Focused Lifelong Education Xperience produced eight new sections with nearly 100 learning modalities to support and enhance learning.

FLEX-pert led sessions at the #OTOMTG23 on clinical and practice management topics.  

New Otolaryngology Patient Scenarios self-assessment series now includes nearly 70 clinical and practice management topics offering CME/MOC credit.

Collaboration with the Pediatric Otolaryngology Education Committee and the Cleft and Craniofacial Committee to develop education content on cleft lip and palate issues.

400+ new case-based questions with rationales in OTO Quest – Knowledge Assessment Tool.

OTO Media Gallery, provides a searchable gallery of otolaryngology images and surgical video procedures.

More than 30 simulation education sessions at #OTOMTG23 in collaboration of the Simulation Education Committee and the Annual Meeting Program Committee.

Continued collaborative initiatives with ABOHNS to support CERTLink diplomates who successfully complete the program each year. 

Clinical and practice management articles in each edition of the Bulletin (“From the Education Committees” and “Pearls from Your Peers”).