Getting to the Other Side of That Bridge over Troubled Water

September 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 8
Duane J. Taylor, MD, AAO-HNS/F President

Duane J. Taylor, MD
AAO-HNS/F President

As I reflect on this year, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs by Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” A timeless song that crosses the spectrum of musical genres and has been covered by a multitude of diverse artists, including Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Jon Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora, Bella River, and John Legend. And isn’t it fitting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the song, which seems to have so much meaning for a year where we have all encountered our share of “troubled water.” A song that brings solace and reassurance during a time of uncertainty and despair.

Bridges have a number of symbolic meanings that resonate with my experience. Simplistically they can be a means by which we reach our desired destination, an opportunity to connect with people you have never met or places you have never been. More importantly, they are a way to get over the obstacles that may be below us in that “troubled water” to reach a “better place.” A glance over the bridge when looking straight down may engender fear, but when looking out into the horizon, it may reveal a perfect sunrise or sunset reflecting off the water. The even more exciting prospect about a bridge is the potential for hope that lies on the other side.

In my first column in the Bulletin as President, I alluded to the importance of “finding your center” before embarking on each endeavor and realizing your potential to overcome what may appear impossible. Each of us have been challenged this year in a variety of ways to find our center as we navigate the shockwaves created by this COVID-19 pandemic and unsettling reality of the work that lies ahead in the area of social injustice, kicked off by the death of George Floyd. Through it all, as most of you know, your Academy has not stopped trying to help you by serving as that “bridge.”

My intention when I started the year was to try to connect with and listen to as many of our members as possible and to work in tandem with the amazing staff led by Dr. Jim Denneny to give our members the very best of our education, advocacy, practice management information, and resources, as well as to enhance our efforts in the area of diversity, inclusion, and wellness. Who could have imagined what would lie ahead in 2020? My hope is that over the last year under my leadership our Academy has served as a bridge in some way for you with your practice, your patients, your family, and your community to reassure you that we will see our way over this obstacle to the other side. It was an honor and a pleasure to serve as President, to work for our members and our patients, and to contribute to the great legacy of this organization during this challenging time. I valued all your input and participation when called upon.

The “bridges” in our Academy network were ever present starting with our EVP/CEO, the Boards of Directors, committed staff, committee and section chairs, and our Board of Governors, creating a collaborative team this year. As I move into my Past President position, I am excited and very confident that our incoming President Dr. Carol Bradford is up for the task and ready to go along with our existing and new board members. Finally, there were many bridges in my personal life, and I owe a great deal of thanks to my wife, my daughter, my staff, and friends who were supportive as I balanced my home life, practice, and responsibilities as your President.

Let us all continue to build our own bridges, accept the ones built for us, and look forward to the hope that is on the other side. We Are One.