Published: August 31, 2015

Real-life learning, better care

When I passed the exam for the American Board of Otolaryngology 34 years ago, I felt very proud. I had excellent residency training and I felt well prepared to go out and take care of my patients. But the certification exam had merely sampled my knowledge—it was not really a test of competence. Like almost every other physician I know, I learned more during my first year of practice than in any prior year in my life!

Gayle E. Woodson, MD, AAO-HNS/F PresidentGayle E. Woodson, MD, AAO-HNS/F President

By Gayle E. Woodson, MD, AAO-HNS/F President

When I passed the exam for the American Board of Otolaryngology 34 years ago, I felt very proud. I had excellent residency training and I felt well prepared to go out and take care of my patients. But the certification exam had merely sampled my knowledge—it was not really a test of competence. Like almost every other physician I know, I learned more during my first year of practice than in any prior year in my life! There were so many practical issues and nuances that are not covered in textbooks! And the need to learn more never stopped. So much of what I “knew” as a chief resident was obsolete within five years. Such things as endoscopic sinus surgery, fine needle aspiration, and magnetic resonance imaging, etc. … etc. This proliferation of information and technology has continued to escalate.

We are now required to maintain our certification. This is something that has evolved in response to the public demand for some means of assuring that their physicians know what they are doing. Of course, certification itself is not the process that informs us. Certification is only the means of documenting that we are doing our jobs in educating ourselves—something that doctors have always felt morally and ethically compelled to do.

doctabletSo how do we keep up? Traditional education involves reading textbooks and listening to lectures. Practice-based learning has been the cornerstone of learning for me. As a medical student, I found that when I studied with a certain patient in mind, all the facts seemed to “stick” better in my brain. Later, in my practice, I would respond to clinical challenges by consulting colleagues, looking through journals, or going to the library to pore through the Index Medicus. And at academic meetings, I have always selectively attended presentations relevant to the problems encountered by patients in my practice. Over time, I have come to rely heavily on the newer ways that technology has provided for accessing information, e.g., I can browse PubMed online from the comfort of home.

Education research has revealed much about how adults learn. “Case-based” learning was developed to harness our natural tendency to remember best what we need to know. We also now know that people vary greatly in how they learn best: hearing, reading, seeing. We all learn better when we manipulate incoming information in some way, such as by discussion, answering questions, or applying the information to some sample scenario.

This issue of the Bulletin showcases the extent and variety of your Academy’s education products. One core mission of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery has always been education. Of course, we all rely on the AAO-HNS for advocacy issues and for guidance in practice management. But above all else, we value the educational programs that help us keep up with the relentless progress of knowledge and technology so that we can provide the best care for our patients. Your Academy has continued to exceed our expectations—providing the information we need through an ever-increasing variety of formats that utilize principles of adult learning. We can not only select what we need to learn—we can access information in formats that are best suited to our individual learning styles. All of this is possible because of the tremendous volunteer efforts of Members, based on their real-life experiences as practicing otolaryngologists-head and neck surgeons.



More from September 2015 - Vol. 34 No. 08

Products from the new AcademyU® Learning Platform
Foundation copublishes two books with Thieme As part of an ongoing agreement with Thieme Publishers, the Foundation has just added two more titles to its book and eBook collection. The first book, Otolaryngology Lifelong Learning Manual (OLLM), is an update to the Maintenance Manual for Lifelong Learning. Through the hard work of the eight education committees, under the leadership of Education Coordinator Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, this will become a valuable resource for all otolaryngology clinicians. OLLM serves as a great resident resource and certification study guide. Practicing physicians can use it for a refresher on a topic and for recertification through MOC. Nonphysician clinicians will also benefit from the comprehensive scope of the book. The second book, Geriatric Otolaryngology, was edited by Robert T. Sataloff, MD, Michael M. Johns III, MD, and Karen Kost, MD. This book is much more than a revision to the previous book of the same title. It is a comprehensive and timely discussion of the otolaryngology concerns of the elderly population. Both books are available in print and eBook formats and can be ordered through the Thieme website at You can search by specialty or title. The AAO-HNS Foundation is proud to have worked with Thieme on these two essential otolaryngology publications and looks forward to continuing its copublishing partnership. AcademyQ® CME: otolaryngology knowledge self-assessment tool AcademyQ® CME offers learners the opportunity to hone their knowledge skills through a series of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery-specific self-assessment questions. Derived from the 800 knowledge assessment questions available in the AcademyQ® app for Apple and Android, this activity provides the opportunity to enhance knowledge of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery with hundreds of study questions to test recall, interpretation, and problem-solving skills while earning CME credit. Drawing on the same questions released on the Academy® app in 2012 and 2014, nine modules contain 50 questions specific to each specialty. The physician learner will read and analyze otolaryngology-specific questions and rationales developed by otolaryngology experts. Included in each module is thorough feedback for each question, additional reading references, and appropriate images and videos to enhance the learning experience. Pediatric Otolaryngology eLectures Pediatric Otolaryngology eLectures, coproduced by the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO) and AAO-HNSF, offer learners education opportunities designed to address pressing patient care concerns facing pediatric and general otolaryngologists. The webinars in this series are: Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis Diagnosis and Management of Vascular Malformations Update on Allergic Rhinitis—A Burdensome Disease Down Syndrome: Otolaryngologic Manifestations Evaluation and Management of Sialorrhea in Children Hearing Tests and Hearing Aids: More Interesting Than You Thought Complications of Acute Rhinosinusitis in Children Otitis Media Update Assessment and Management of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Evaluation of Pediatric Sensorineural Hearing Loss Unilateral Hearing Loss In Children Caustic Ingestion Management of Pediatric Vocal Fold Immobility Head and Neck Masses in the Pediatric Population Quality and Safety in Surgery: How to Become a Better Surgeon Choking and Aspiration in Children: Evaluation and Management Pediatric Sleep Medicine 2014: A Roundtable Discussion Eustachian Tube and Evolution Social Media—A Blessing or a Curse for the Otolaryngologist Genetics and Pediatric Otolaryngology These archived recordings are be available for AMA PRA Category 1™ credit. ENT for the PA-C eLecture Series The annual ENT for the PA-C Conference is jointly presented by the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation and the Society of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery. The primary audience for the conference is nonphysician clinicians, especially physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who specialize in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This eLecture Series, recorded at the 2015 ENT for the PA-C Annual Conference, includes the following presentations: Healthcare Reform Audiogram Interpretation: 10-minute Dizziness Evaluation Evaluation and Management of Facial Nerve Paralysis Everything You Ever (and Never) Need to Know About Salivary Glands Differential Diagnosis and Management of Conductive Hearing Loss Non-otologic Sources of Otalgia Diagnosis and Treatment of Anaphylaxis Evaluation and Management of Pediatric Neck Masses OSA: Improving Treatment Outcomes Vocal Fold Paralysis Diagnosis and Treatment Assisting in ENT Procedures These archived recordings will be available for AAPA CME credit. Visit for these new activities along with the entire catalog of education opportunities offered by the AAO-HNS Foundation.