Published: December 10, 2015

Going global means embracing clinical care worldwide

The term “global” gets tossed around a lot these days. With the ease of intercontinental travel, a Starbucks and McDonalds in every corner of the world, and the power of the Internet, it does seem that the world is becoming an increasingly smaller place. But what exactly does it mean to be a global organization?

saundersBy James E. Saunders, MD, International Coordinator

The term “global” gets tossed around a lot these days. With the ease of intercontinental travel, a Starbucks and McDonalds in every corner of the world, and the power of the Internet, it does seem that the world is becoming an increasingly smaller place. But what exactly does it mean to be a global organization? Of course, we naturally think of global as meaning “worldwide.” Certainly, the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery is a worldwide organization whose influence and affiliations extend far beyond U.S. borders.

This international scope is evident in sheer numbers. This year we have 1,068 international Members from 88 different countries and 57 International Corresponding Societies (ICS) spanning nearly every continent (We have no connections in Antarctica—yet.). On average, AAO-HNS/F Members participate in a half dozen joint meetings with our ICS partners every year. Eugene N. Myers, MD, the former Coordinator for International Affairs and currently a globe-trotting Member of the Academy, regularly writes in the Bulletin of his travels to important otolaryngology meetings worldwide. In addition, our Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM draws attendees from all over the world. More than 1,600 international otolaryngologists participate in the Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM, making it the largest annual international gathering of otolaryngologists of its kind. Four affiliated international organizations held satellite functions at our Annual Meeting in Dallas and the number of requests for such events is growing every year.

Altogether, there were 26 different international functions in Dallas including the International Assembly and “Global Otolaryngology 2015: Our Academy Around the World.” Indeed, if you look at the sheer number and breadth of our international activities, we are already “global.” But I don’t think these facts really tell the whole story.

When I think of the term “global” in the context of our Academy, I also think of Webster’s second definition of the word, i.e., “to embrace the whole of something.” I firmly believe that our mission of achieving “excellence … through education, research, and health policy advocacy” calls for us to embrace the whole of otolaryngology regardless of geography. The AAO-HNS/F has become a pre-eminent organization for our field. As such, we have a responsibility to enhance the practice of otolaryngology and the care of patients wherever they live. Through our Clinical Practice Guidelines and new educational platforms, the AAO-HNS/F is poised to play an even more influential role in patient care excellence around the world. Our support can have a powerful influence on global health policy on such issues as hearing loss prevention and the provision of surgical care.

In addition to what we have to offer the world, we also stand to gain tremendously from the efforts of our international colleagues through their scientific contributions and service to our Academy. Our Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM and education programs are enhanced not only by their attendance, but also by their participation and knowledge. Indeed, next year we are launching the AAO-HNSF International Symposium, which will showcase cutting-edge content presented by international physicians. Many of the scientific advances that are commonly used in today’s practice, such as endoscopic sinus surgery and transoral laser microsurgery, were pioneered outside of the United States.

The AAO-HNS/F is already a global organization, but we could do more to foster and embrace the global otolaryngology community “as a whole.” Last year, former President of the AAO-HNS/F, Gayle E. Woodson, MD, appointed an International Task Force to explore ways that the Academy might accomplish that task. I will share more with you about this process in the coming months. Together with our international colleagues, we can do even more to promote the highest standards in otolaryngologic clinical care worldwide. Now that’s what I call “going global.”


More from December 2015/ January 2016 - Vol. 34, No. 11

BOG will ‘bring home the Academy’ to you
By David Edelstein, MD, BOG Chair Hockey fans know that each year the winners of the Stanley Cup get a chance to touch the Cup when the winning team gets to “Bring Home the Cup.” This is an exciting moment for local fans, and I remember being taken by my dad many years ago to see the Cup firsthand when the Bruins won it. Seeing the Cup makes the win tangible and the moment memorable. Just as the Bruins brought home the Stanley Cup to the Boston of my youth, the Academy’s Board of Governors (BOG) can help “bring home the Academy” to you. Some people have the mistaken idea that the Academy’s and Foundation’s only function is to run the Annual Meeting once a year. Although the recent meeting in Dallas was a success, it represents only a small part of what the AAO-HNS/F does for you every day. A lot goes on at the Academy during the year about which you need to be informed. Hence, one of the major goals of the BOG this year is to “bring home the Academy” by helping Academy Members and local BOG governors stay up to date on what the Academy is doing by providing handouts and slide shows on a quarterly basis highlighting topics of interest to local societies. The BOG serves an important role in ensuring that the day-to-day issues you face in your practice remain front and center on the Academy’s agenda. For example, this past year the BOG’s Legislative Affairs Committee collated reports on issues of local concern from 110 otolaryngologists in 42 states and organized 40 local In-district Grassroots Outreach (I-GO) meetings with federal lawmakers. Similarly, the Socioeconomic and Grassroots (SEGR) Committee heard presentations on socioeconomic issues affecting our specialty from all 10 regions of the country. Appropriately, part of SEGR stands for “grassroots” (GR), and the Committee will be conducting two polls for 2015-2016 regarding feedback on the Affordable Care Act (polling in December 2015) and ICD-10 (polling in March 2016). The BOG’s Rules and Regulations committee was recently renamed Governance and Society Engagement in keeping with its new mission to help energize local societies and build a framework to develop new state societies where none exist. Did you know that there are five states with no local societies? The newly named committee will help to build virtual societies with Internet-based platforms for these states so that otolaryngologists can talk about local problems, especially in those geographic areas where in-person meetings are not easily accomplished. Spring Leadership Meeting  The BOG also helps organize the Academy’s annual conference on leadership, scheduled for March 18-21, 2016, in Alexandria, VA. The AAO-HNS/F 2016 Leadership Forum & BOG Spring Meeting is open to any Academy Member, in addition to BOG governors and local society representatives. The conference program includes exciting luncheon speakers on such topics as where medicine is going, how to be a leader in medicine, and the current political environment on medical issues in Washington, DC. In addition, there will be many interesting panels on building leadership skills; on how to write a business plan; how to write a letter to insurance companies; RegentSM, the Academy’s new ENT clinical data registry; and how to set your career pathway. We hope that your local BOG governors help you to reconnect with the AAO-HNS and that the “bring home the Academy” project enables you to find ways in which the Academy can be useful to you every day. See you in March!