Visions and Goals

November 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 10

Karl Hoermann, MD, PhD, IAB Chair

AAO-HNS Position Statement: Global Humanitarian Outreach

(Adopted January 14, 2020)

The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) recognizes that many of its members voluntarily engage in global humanitarian outreach efforts that provide humanitarian relief in crises, patient care in low resource areas, and healthcare provider education around the world. The AAO-HNS advocates that the primary objective of global humanitarian outreach efforts be the ultimate development of sustainable, autonomous healthcare within the local healthcare environment. Patient care activities within global humanitarian outreach efforts should be undertaken with local healthcare professional stakeholder input and participation in order to maximize patient care outcomes as well as educational opportunities for visiting and host healthcare teams.

Patient safety remains the top priority in patient care in low resource environments, and patients should be afforded the highest possible quality of care, with input from local healthcare providers regarding limitations in resources and cultural considerations which may impact patient care. Volunteer healthcare providers’ engagement in patient care should be consistent with their skills, credentials, and practice in their normal working environment, as well as in accordance with the laws of the host country. With consistent and thoughtful collaboration between visiting and host physicians and other healthcare providers, a successful global humanitarian outreach effort ideally should eventually eliminate the necessity of its own existence.

To access the Position Statement with references, go to https://www.entnet.org/content/position-statement-global-humanitarian-outreach.

From 1993 to 2017 I served as head and chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (ORLHNS) and Sleep Centre at the Mannheim University Teaching Hospital in Mannheim, Germany. Following this I became head of the International Patient Office at the same hospital. Since I was appointed Chair-elect of the AAO-HNSF International Advisory Board (IAB) at the AAO-HNSF 2019 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana, I have concentrated my work besides patient care and surgery on this task.

Karl Hoermann, MD, PhD

One of my special interests is in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders, where I have been fortunate enough to gain extensive experience in a wide variety of advanced sleep surgeries.

I have had the privilege of being a fellow of the American Head & Neck Society as well as an active member of many societies, such as the AAO-HNS and the Japanese Broncho-Esophageal Society, as well as an honorary member of national ORL societies throughout Europe. It has also been my honor to be invited to present the Eugene N. Myers, MD International Lecture on Head and Neck Cancer at the AAO-HNSF 2011 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in San Francisco, California, and as the JLO Visiting Professor from The Royal Society of Medicine, London.

Two decades of serving as a member, fellow, and/or president in various national and international ORL-HNS societies has shown me how effective the exchange of experiences and mutual support can be in promoting the excellence of professional standards and education and training, as well as in ensuring a strong and unified voice for medical specialists.

I was honored to receive my first invitation to the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1999, and I was immediately and deeply impressed by the wholehearted commitment to excellence across the wide range of specialities covered.

With its outstanding reputation and unparalleled scope of influence, the AAO-HNS is and will remain the ideal institution to contribute decisively to the consolidation and expansion of global relations.

I transitioned to the position of Chair of the IAB in September 2020, and my focus and vision for my term of office will be:

  • Promoting the excellence of professional standards and education and training, with patient safety at the core of these standards
  • Ensuring a strong and unified voice for medical specialists worldwide
  • Strengthening AAO-HNS collaboration with regional organizations to increase visibility and international membership
  • Encouraging and supporting regional incentives
  • Increasing the outreach of AAO-HNS/F globally
  • Producing guidelines and white papers online
  • Fostering scientific exchange through the ENTConnect Open Forum Digest
  • Promoting continuing medical education (CME)
  • Advancing the latest research and leading-edge techniques
  • Generating unlimited education and networking

We currently face immense challenges from the preventive and precautionary measures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused the focus of our work to change tremendously. After my election and under the leadership of James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO, a panel consisting of Immediate Past Chair of the IAB Sady Selaimen da Costa, MD, MSc, PhD, AAO-HNSF Director of Global Affairs Rebecca Dobbins, International Affairs Coordinator J. Pablo Stolovitzky, MD, International Affairs Coordinator-elect Mark E. Zafereo, Jr., MD, and I fixed an intensive schedule of travel to numerous international conferences. However, given the immediate situation the pandemic has placed us in, there can be no in-person international conferences. Virtual conferences have taken over.

International Observership Directory

The AAO-HNSF maintains a directory of U.S. otolaryngology organizations or departments that offer international observerships. International observerships allow eligible international physicians the ability to shadow U.S. physicians and learn more about the specialty of their choice. Access to the directory can be found at www.entnet.org/international. For questions about the database or to add a U.S. otolaryngology institution to the directory, contact international@entnet.org.

The IAB has had to develop new approaches to reach out to ENTs on all continents around the globe. And in fact, this has been extremely interesting. The factor of different time zones has woken me for a Zoom roundtable with our friends from Asia at 2:00 am. I have been privileged to be a virtual guest in the home or the office of the individuals involved. And they, of course, have been more than welcome in mine. This experience has been real life. No rushing to the airport, plane, cab, hotel—just concentrating and cooperating on the matter at hand in your own surroundings.

The AAO-HNS is rising magnificently to these challenges and embracing the opportunities provided by videoconferencing software. I am convinced that what we have learned and are still learning in this field will be of great benefit to us in future when the pandemic has finally ended. Although nothing can replace personal meetings and the exchange of ideas face-to-face, the possibility of inviting individual guest speakers, lecturers, and contributors to attend virtually may facilitate and enrich future events.

And we have all been updated with the management of the new situation:

  • Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Priority-setting and resource allocation during a pandemic
  • Impact of the pandemic on specialist training and mitigation thereof
  • Ethics of refusing to put yourself in harm’s way when PPE is lacking
  • Teaching and training: Is remote education here to stay?
  • What does training look like going forward?
  • The future of international conferences and training courses post-pandemic
  • Physicians as patients during the COVID-19 era: observations, insights, experiences

Working closely with you to ensure the continued development and success of AAO-HNS/F as we move forward is my great honor and privilege.