By Amy Widner
After setting a goal to best themselves, the residents in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery ended up besting most of the nation at this year’s in-service exam.
UAMS scored in the top three or four among the 100-plus ENT residency programs in the nation. The in-service exams for each specialty are good practice for the board exams they take at the end of their residency.
“We decided to set a bar and then the residents took it from there,” said Abby Nolder, M.D., residency program director. “There’s always been an expectation for them to do well, but we never really set a benchmark, something to aim for. Once we did, the residents independently revamped their in-service review schedule, made it a priority, and they really exceeded even our high expectations.”
The residents met once a week, sometimes twice, to review and practice together. Some made flashcards to review at any free time in the unpredictable life of a resident. The department also invested in an online study tool to help the residents quiz themselves. The residents who needed the most help bringing their scores up also took practice tests every three months to monitor their improvement.
While residents are known to be competitive – and there was a monetary prize for the top score – resident Zachary Anderson, M.D., said the group developed a culture of mutual support that emerged as the true driving force behind their success.
“Everyone was pulling everybody else along to make sure we did as well as we could, collectively,” Anderson said. “At the end of the day, it’s more than just a test score. Excelling gives everyone in the program the confidence that, No. 1, we’re being well-trained; and No. 2., it taught us that we can work well together as a team. And finally, there’s just the simple fact that it fills me with a lot of confidence knowing that I have all those answers in my memory bank now, that I can pull them out even under pressure. It makes me feel like I’m prepared to go off on my own as a physician.”
The ENT residents are Anderson; Terrell Bibb, M.D.; Mary Catherine Brown, M.D.; Erin Creighton, M.D.; Olivia Daigle, M.D.; Quinn Dunlap, M.D.; Victoria Gau, M.D.; Blake Hollowoa, M.D.; Anvesh Kompelli, M.D.; Tyler Merrill, M.D.; Sriram Navuluri, M.D.; Cody Page, M.D.; Shep Russell, M.D.; Mariah Small, M.D.; and Don Vickers, M.D.
John L. Dornhoffer, M.D., is chair of the department.