Published: February 23, 2016

Collaboration among specialties

As we prepare for World Voice Day, April 16, I am reminded how important it is to speak with an informed and thoughtful voice. As otolaryngologists we have recognized on many occasions the value of working together within our specialty and speaking with one voice when possible to maximize our influence to effect a desired goal.

James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F EVP/CEOJames C. Denneny III, MD
As we prepare for World Voice Day, April 16, I am reminded how important it is to speak with an informed and thoughtful voice. As otolaryngologists we have recognized on many occasions the value of working together within our specialty and speaking with one voice when possible to maximize our influence to effect a desired goal. With each passing month on the job, I become more aware of generalized medical and societal issues that broadly affect physicians and their organizations across the spectrum of medicine. In the face of limited resources, it is critical to either maintain or have access to expertise in areas that may not be your strength. Often that expertise lies outside of the staff and volunteer Members who serve us so well.

Perhaps the most pleasant and unexpected revelation I have experienced as your EVP/CEO is the across-the-board congeniality and collegial sharing of information and experience that is commonplace in the medical association world both at the individual and organizational level. Matters that are not specialty-specific, that occur irregularly and unpredictably, and yet are critical to an organization can be the hardest to maintain expertise in. However, across the house of medicine it is likely that similar occurrences have been dealt with by others and the willingness to impart lessons learned and recommendations in these circumstances is invaluable.

Relationships developed through participation in organizations such as the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) and Specialty Societies CEO Coalition (S2C2) allow discussion of these issues and the opportunity to compare solutions to problems and craft appropriate solutions with confidence. Probably the most valuable input over the past year has been from several specialty societies, including ophthalmology, dermatology, neurology, urology, and cardiology, regarding the decision to proceed and form our own Clinical Data Registry. Advice on consultants, vendors, and implementation at every stage of the project has been helpful and allowed us to greatly accelerate our timeline and decrease expenses related to this project. Discussions and input from these groups have allowed us to adopt variations of successful plans that most closely fit our needs.

While the relationships are pleasant, the topics themselves cover a broad spectrum of endeavor.

Our Ethics Committee, chaired by Susan D. McCammon, MD, is studying our policy on “expert witness” testimony. The research has included experiences of a number of surgical specialties, particularly neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. The committee will present recommendations to the Board of Directors for consideration of a comprehensive policy. The experiences, both good and bad, relayed by these societies as well as a survey done through S2C2 will greatly enhance predictability and effectiveness of such recommendations.

The task force to review our international activities, chaired by Gayle E. Woodson, MD, has presented initial recommendations to the Board of Directors in the form of a comprehensive business plan addressing international meetings, education, membership, and humanitarian activities. This project was considerably aided by the American Urological Association’s comprehensive plan to promote international relations, which they shared with us, as well as discussions with other specialty societies. We are also looking forward to collaborating with the American College of Surgeons and their “Operation Giving Back.” This program has the potential to allow collaboration, sharing of resources, and expertise across surgical specialties, which will likely increase the benefit to the recipients across the spectrum of humanitarian efforts.

Workplace violence

Unfortunately, in today’s society another issue, random violence, has become much too common. Workplace violence, involving both internal and external threats, has also been on the upswing. It has become necessary to construct policies to prepare workplaces of all types, including medical practices, for the potential of such tragedy. The following two links were produced by the federal government to help prepare the population: “Active Shooter Situation” training video, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and “Run! Hide! Fight!: DHS Offers Tips to Survive A Shooting,” If your workplace does not have a plan, you should consider creating one.

The American Urological Association has recently provided their preparedness plan to our society as well as others, and we are grateful. The plan can be found at the following link:

This and those above are but a few examples of the constructive collaboration that exists broadly among medical associations.


More from March 2016 - Vol. 35, No. 02

New task forces focus on education
By Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, AAO-HNSF former Coordinator for Education The AAO-HNS/F has assembled four education task forces to address important issues concerning our Members and the profession. I am honored to be involved in many of these efforts and to serve as chair for two of these groups. The Simulation Task Force was formed in 2011 to define the current state of simulation, to investigate its role and future potential in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and to provide educational resources for AAO-HNS Members. Under the leadership of Ellen S. Deutsch, MD, the Simulation Task Force has accomplished: Initiation of Simulation Open Forums, at both the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings (COSM) and the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM, has brought together like-minded individuals to discuss interests, challenges, and opportunities in simulation. An active ENTConnect community engages simulation Members in ongoing collaboration and exploration. Launch of the SimTube Project, a national initiative for simulation-based educational research with the immediate goal of assessing the usefulness of a low-cost, low-tech simulator in learning myringotomy and tube placement, and the larger goal of establishing an infrastructure that could support multiprogram collaboration for more complex simulation-based educational research in the future. More than 60 U.S. residency programs now participate in the study. Numerous Annual Meeting Miniseminars highlighting current education efforts and advanced technology in simulation while also demonstrating the value of simulation in quality of care and systems improvement. Recognizing the expanding role of simulation in education, research, and quality, the task force has recently submitted an application to become a Foundation committee. This new designation will permit a formal and permanent structure for furthering Member opportunities and engagement. Dr. Deutsch and Gregory J. Wiet, MD, will chair the committee. The Comprehensive Curriculum Task Force stemmed from the 2013 Board of Directors Strategic Planning meeting where Academy leadership acknowledged the need for a core curriculum in otolaryngology. The Otolaryngology Comprehensive Curriculum will serve as a lifelong, continually expanding learning and assessment tool for otolaryngology professionals. The content and structure will meet the needs of students, residents, allied health colleagues, and all practicing physicians engaged in MOC and lifelong learning. The online format will cover the otolaryngology scope of knowledge, provided in various educational formats, to guide and address cognitive and technical skills. The “living” content will be kept current with frequent updates so users can be assured they are participating in a rich and growing educational program. The task force believes this to be an ideal opportunity to unite the specialties around education, reduce duplicative efforts across societies, and to provide a comprehensive education platform for our specialty. A working group comprised of society representatives is finalizing a list of topics and performing an inventory of all existing education content across the specialties. This information will inform the development of future education programming. The Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Task Force, in existence since fall 2015, will address key issues relevant to facial nerve monitoring during otologic and neuro-otologic surgery. With representation from the American Neurotology Society (ANS) and the American Otological Society (AOS), the task force will focus on: Determining current practice in training and performance of nerve monitoring among Academy Members and Residency Program Directors. Developing education activities that will provide uniform and standardized training for otolaryngologists to safely and successfully perform the procedure. Clarifying the AAO-HNS/F perspective on intraoperative nerve monitoring within the specialty. AAO-HNS President Sujana S. Chandrasekhar, MD, proposed the latest group, Advanced Practice Professionals (APP) Education Task Force. With the growing presence of mid-level providers in otolaryngology practices, it is imperative that we provide our colleagues with proper education and training in our field. These efforts will improve their contributions to our practices and patients while also educating AAO-HNS Members on the benefits of including APPs in the profession. In collaboration with the APP societies, including SPAO-HNS, the task force will design educational programing and provide resources that will allow advanced practice providers and otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to work synergistically to improve patient care. “I have every confidence that this task force will put together a comprehensive ENT APP curriculum, utilizing many Academy resources. Establishing such an educational outline will really help our Members as they seek to incorporate APPs into their practices” said Dr. Chandrasekhar. Karen T. Pitman, MD, and Peter D. Costantino, MD, will serve as chairs of this new task force. Academy task force Members are working hard on topics critical to the Academy and the profession. “These education task forces really complement the work of the education committees by addressing new and innovative education opportunities for our Members,” said Richard V. Smith, MD, coordinator for Education. If you are interested in more information or contributing to any of these projects please email