Laryngology & Voice Disorders One-Year Fellowship Program
The Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio has been offering a one-year Fellowship in Laryngology and Voice Disorders since July 2008. The program director, Dr. Blake Simpson, has been practicing laryngology exclusively for over 16 years in San Antonio, following a Fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice at Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Simpson’s private practice is a very busy, varied laryngology practice which is predominantly voice (including a substantial amount of professional voice/singing voice), but also provides an ample amount of exposure to airway stenosis and swallowing disorders. The referral base is huge, drawing from the entire state of Texas, as well as the southwestern region of the country. Dr. Simpson’s particular areas of expertise include laryngeal framework surgery (medialization laryngoplasty, arytenoid adduction, hypopharyngoplasty), microlaryngeal “microflap” surgery, innovative treatments for airway stenosis, and local office-based procedures (including vocal fold injection augmentation, per-oral and EMG-guided Botox, transnasal esophagoscopy, pulsed-KTP and CO2 laser treatment of laryngeal lesions, and laser treatment of airway stenosis under local anesthesia). The Fellow will receive extensive exposure and hands-on experience in all of these areas.
In addition to exposure to the diagnostic and surgical aspects of laryngology, the Fellow will work closely with our Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) team in a collaborative role to augment their educational experience. All new patients are seen with the speech pathologist at their first clinic visit. We believe this collaborative approach strengthens the Fellow’s experience. The SLP team is particularly valuable in providing additional training in swallowing evaluation and treatment, including FEES (functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing), and modified barium swallow exams.
The weekly schedule of the Fellow is somewhat flexible but will consist of the following:
- 2.0 days of clinic (including office-based procedures) with Dr. Simpson
- 1.0 day in the operating room with Dr. Simpson
- 0.5 days of academic time
- 1.0 day of the fellow’s own private clinic
- 0.5 day in the operating room for the fellow’s private patients (one full day every other week)
The caseload that comes from the Fellow’s own clinic is almost exclusively laryngology and is a good way to experience the process of developing a voice practice, before beginning an academic or private practice career. The residents will be very involved in the care of these patients, and this is an excellent way to prepare the Fellow for an academic career.
In terms of the educational experience of the Fellow, weekly assigned journal readings and topic discussions will cover all aspects of laryngology and esophagology over the course of the year. A text co-authored by Dr. Simpson entitled “Operative Techniques in Laryngology” will be provided to the Fellow to help prepare for surgical cases. Also, frequent opportunities are available for the Fellow to perform cadaveric surgery on the larynx to prepare for the more challenging surgical cases. This is invaluable in teaching anatomical concepts. In addition, the Fellow will have an all-expenses paid trip to attend the annual Advanced Practices in Voice and Dysphagia course in Las Vegas, of which Dr. Simpson is the co-director. Lastly, Dr. Simpson participates in a fellowship exchange system with eight other laryngology programs, where the fellow is allowed (with prior approval) to spend some time visiting other fellowships to augment their experience.
The physical plant for the laryngology Fellowship is first rate. The entire Department of Otolaryngology-HNS recently in housed in an eight story, state-of-the-art facility. This building includes academic offices (a private office for the fellow is provided), generous clinic space including 3 large videostroboscopy suites, a procedure room, 8 chip-tip flexible laryngoscopes (4 with side channels for procedures), 2 transnasal esophagoscopes, and a pulsed-KTP laser for minimally invasive treatments in the clinic. In addition, a surgery center is present in the building, where all elective outpatient cases take place. All airway cases are performed at University Hospital, our primary affiliated hospital.
Lastly, the salary of the Fellow will be above that of a PG6 level resident. The cost of the living in San Antonio is very low, and housing near the hospital is very affordable.
All potential fellowship candidates must submit a letter of intent (please include year of interest at the top of the letter), a CV, along with 3 letters of recommendation from the faculty in their residency program. Normally, interviews take place in the October through January of the resident’s PG4 year. The fellowship match occurs in February of the PG4 year.