I often teach that only medicine and religion deal with the hard realities of death and dying, particularly with respect to helping individuals and their families face serious health challenges. Having studied both religious ethics and secular ethics, with an emphasis on bioethics, I have come to realize that physicians are stewards of the human body, including the mind and emotions, and that is a tremendous responsibility that requires humility, honesty, respect for persons, compassion, and ethical behavior.
I have personally had outstanding role models for these professional qualities over the course of my career, and I feel a strong sense of obligation to “pay it forward” to others. We each must honestly acknowledge that we did not succeed in our careers on our own, but through the efforts of many well-meaning mentors and role-models who shaped our professional capabilities. Paying it forward also means stimulating medical students to seek the proper specialty that fits their own personality and capabilities, whether or not it will be otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.
The Practice of Medicine is Enriched by Outside Interests
I have been favored over the course of my career with a great number of colleagues, mentors, trainees, medical students, and especially patients who have informed and shaped who I am as a physician. This informed journey for me started in elementary school and continues to date. And, I have been especially blessed with a loving, supportive spouse, who is also a physician, and who shares my philosophy about how special is our profession. We were married while we were in medical school, and because of time and finances, waited for eight years to start our family—our first child was born while we were on active military duty and cost us $5.76 for the delivery! I acknowledge that all medical marriages/families face many challenges, and it was no different for us as we began our medical careers in earnest, and now three children and eight grandchildren later, it still remains a challenge, albeit much easier.