Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Triological Society Combined Sections Meeting was held virtually on Jan. 29-30. The physical distance didn’t stop otolaryngologists in every specialty area from discussing the latest treatments, techniques, and issues in otolaryngology research and clinical practice. The following reports are a brief representation of these discussions from five presentations: Leadership, Rhinology, Head and Neck, Laryngology, and General Best Practices.
Explore This IssueMarch 2021
When he was a young physician as a fellow in Boston, Earl Harley Jr., MD, was the only African American in the entire department, and he felt isolated, he told a virtual audience in a pediatric otolaryngology panel session at the Triological Society Combined Sections Meeting.
Dr. Harley, now director of pediatric otolaryngology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said he now understands how mentoring could have gone a long way toward making his experience better. “No mentoring made me feel isolated and not part of the group,” Dr. Harley said. Mentors, he added, provide guidance, improve job performance, and give mentees the feeling of belonging.
Dr. Harley’s talk was part of a session on leadership in pediatric otolaryngology, with lessons that apply to all of otolaryngology, medicine, and beyond. Dr. Harley touched on how leaders are developed and the need to make leadership in medicine more ethnically and culturally diverse.
A good mentoring program, and the environment created by it, starts at the top and “trickles down,” said Dr. Harley, who has made mentoring a central part of his career. And it isn’t just formal mentoring programs, he added—mentors can be advisers, champions of projects, friends, and colleagues—and even mentees themselves, since mentors often learn from those they help. In addition, mentoring can provide personal benefits: It can reduce burnout, drug and alcohol abuse, and marital problems, Dr. Harley said.
A culture of mentoring also can help avoid the “leaky pipe,” a concept described by the University of Michigan that can be seen at the mid-career point in some organizations, when physicians may think, “Why should I stay?” if there is no mentoring or career advancement available.
“There must be buy-in from the leadership,” he cautioned. “And there must be an earnest effort to mentor, and you must be proactive. When you see a student who may feel isolated, try to offer yourself as a mentor.”
Steven Goudy, MD, MBA, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Emory University in Atlanta, talked about the importance of an organization’s core values. Although these values might often be forgotten or overlooked, they provide a framework for what an organization stands for, he said.