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UAMC introduces five-year residency program

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The University of Arizona Medical Center will introduce this summer a new residency program in ear, nose and throat medicine.

The five-year Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Residency Program will begin July 1 and will be the second otolaryngology training program in Arizona.

Dr. Alexander Chiu, professor and chief of the Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Dr. Audrey Erman, assistant professor of surgery and co-director of Head and Neck Oncology, will lead the program.

The new otolaryngology or ear, nose and throat program only took a year and a half to receive accreditation from the American Council on Graduate Medical Education, according to Erman.

“I think that it means we’re ready,” Erman said.

Dr. Rainer Gruessner, head of the Department of Surgery, said it highlights the quality of the faculty and the breadth and width of the division, which treats everything from nasal tumors to ear diseases to head and neck cancer.

“It’s almost unheard of, getting approval in such a short amount of time,” Gruessner said.

When Chiu started at UAMC three years ago, there was no department of otolaryngology, according to Erman. Sometimes otolaryngologists from around Tucson would come in and cover calls but it was still difficult for patients in the hospital to get adequate care.

“We went from zero otolaryngologists to eight in two and a half years,” Erman said. “There were a lot of patients waiting at our doorsteps. We were immediately very clinically busy. Dr. Chiu really had a vision to make the department what it is now.”

In academic medicine, there are three pillars that are important to an institution: clinical care, research and teaching, Erman said. The addition of the ENT residency program will round out the program.

There are about 103 ENT programs across the country, according to Chiu, and the UA was one of the few top schools that didn’t have an ENT program. Chiu said the addition of the program increases the UA’s credibility, research and teaching opportunities.

“We want to teach a new generation of otolaryngologists,” Chiu said. “That’s why we’re so excited.”

Gruessner said that not only will they be training the next generation of ENT physicians but he also thinks the high quality experience and education from the faculty will lead to the next generation of ENT leaders.

“I think it’s a win-win for the university, for the college department, but foremost for the citizens of Tucson and Southern Arizona,” Gruessner said.


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