The mental discipline has helped make me more productive, because to put in the time requirement to train, I have to schedule my day out to the minute. It has helped me become more productive in my academic and clinical roles. —Jim Daniero, MD
Explore This IssueMay 2021
For Dr. Miller, now 33, and Jim Daniero, MD, a distance trail runner who competes in ultramarathons—generally 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) and 50 miles—and is also an associate professor in otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the University of Virginia, such athletic training helps each establish priorities and set both personal and professional goals. “The mental discipline has helped make me more productive, because to put in the time requirement to train, I have to schedule my day out to the minute,” said Dr. Daniero, 42. “It has helped me become more productive in my academic and clinical roles. It would seem like there’s not enough time in the day, but you can manufacture time.”
While Dr. Miller had already decided to pursue medicine before his bike accident, his healing experience helped him to choose otolaryngology–head and neck surgery as his specialty.
His recovery lasted almost two years, and he had complete left-sided facial paralysis for several months. “During my recovery, I experienced firsthand how facial paralysis takes away our ability to express ourselves and our ability to communicate effectively. People often ignore what patients with facial paralysis are saying because they’re left wondering why they cannot make normal facial expressions; it can leave patients depressed and socially isolated. This experience has really motivated me to take care of facial paralysis patients to help restore facial form and function.”
Dr. Miller appreciates how much a skilled facial plastic surgeon can do for patients. “You really have to strive for perfection in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery,” he said. “All the details matter. People are looking at faces all day long—except when we’re wearing masks.”
Dr. Daniero learned about otolaryngology while attending Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., following a healthcare policy position with the Institute of Medicine and completion of a biotechnology master’s degree at Georgetown University, both in Washington, D.C. The complexity of the head and neck region proved fascinating, in particular the voice box.
Preparing for the Cozumel Ironman was a great journey, as you have to dedicate a minimum of 10 to 15 hours a week training, including two-and-a-half-hour runs and five-hour bike rides. You have to embrace the journey and not just the outcome. —Matthew Q. Miller, MD
“There are various functions of a complex biomechanical nature that we take for granted,” Dr. Daniero said. “It sits inside the throat and lets us talk, allows us to sing, ingest food, play an instrument, and plays an essential role in the need for central breathing,” he said. While he is a classically trained pianist and neither plays a wind instrument nor vocalizes, “I respect the talents of others and I’m happy to be able to help them tune and repair their vocal instrument.”