That’s an essential perspective for the new generation of otolaryngologists, said Ronald Kuppersmith, MD, who practices with Texas ENT and Allergy in College Station, Texas. “They’ve seen so many things over the years, if they are skeptical of a new technology, it should be taken seriously by younger physicians,” he said.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2010
Dr. Kuppersmith said enthusiasm or skepticism about new surgical approaches or technical tools depends more on the individual than on age. “Some older physicians are into innovation and pushing the edge throughout their careers, while sometimes when people are starting out they want to stick with the things they know,” he said.
And how a surgeon’s perspective is received by colleagues will also depend on his or her general standing in the community. “An older surgeon who has traction in the community, experience in the field and is a recognized thought leader will speak out irrespective of what the reaction might be,” said Gavin Setzen, MD, president of the New York State Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who practices with Albany ENT and Allergy Services. “But if it’s someone who isn’t necessarily adept, they may well not raise concerns due to fear of being considered out of touch or dated—although I haven’t really encountered this as a significant issue in practice.”
Dr. Grundfast said an emphasis on mutual respect is important. “There’s always a tendency for differences of opinion to be addressed by innuendo, for senior surgeons to imply that the younger ones are inexperienced and lack the wisdom to choose the management method that’s most effective, and, conversely, young surgeons to imply that the senior ones have not kept up with advancements. But the chair cannot condone that kind of behavior,” he said.
Dr. Grundfast said his department’s solution is to hold regular case conferences and tumor boards where everyone is encouraged to express their opinions openly “and continually reconsider best practices in an open forum with their colleagues.”