Otologist John Dornhoffer, MD, was diagnosed with a hereditary form of hearing loss at the age of 5. Although it is difficult for him to understand speech and hear higher tones, his condition most certainly has not affected his long and distinguished medical career. Dr. Dornhoffer, who is professor, vice chair of adult services, director of otology and neurotology, and the Samuel D. McGill, Jr., Chair in Otolaryngology Research in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Arkansas and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, has used a variety of high- and low-tech methods to accommodate his condition.
Explore this issue:May 2015
“Back during my early practice, all pagers beeped, which I couldn’t hear well,” he said. “I would set the pager to vibrate, set it in a brass bowl full of pennies, and place the whole thing on a glass-top table—it would really make a racket. You end up figuring out ways to get by, although it wasn’t always easy,” he added. “I have had a few medical students who have hearing issues come stay with me, and we discuss what it is like being in the medical profession today.”
Although some challenges remain, technological advances in communication devices and time-tested strategies for practice have made all medical specialties increasingly accessible to physicians who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHoH).