Q & A With Elizabeth Toh, MD, MBA, Otolaryngology

 Toh MD 

What led you to specialize in otolaryngology?

I was fascinated by the field of Otolaryngology because of the breadth and challenges this specialty offered. Once I started my residency, it became clear how much I enjoyed the complex microsurgery of Otology and Neuro-otologic skull base surgery, but what sets this subspecialty apart from all others for me, is that I get to give the gift of hearing to those who cannot hear. Nothing is more gratifying to me.

Who were your role models and mentors?

I have always been influenced by those that lead by example, those that demonstrate they are ethical, hardworking and expect the best from themselves as well as those around them. I have been fortunate to train with Dr. William Luxford at the House Ear Clinic, a leader in the field of Otology, who taught me not just how to operate and take care of patients but how to conduct myself through life. Dr. Eugene Myers was the chairman at University of Pittsburgh where I started my career. He demanded excellence, but was always looking to promote me, encourage me and provide needed insight. Finally, my father, who instilled in me the independence and drive I needed to come to the United States and succeed.

How do you prepare for a difficult operation?

Whenever difficult cases turned out well during my surgical training, I used to think we were lucky. But my mentors have taught me otherwise that luck is nothing more than when preparation meets opportunity. I prepare for every complex surgical case by reviewing my notes and test results, I go over the pertinent films with neuroradiology colleagues, discuss the case with peers, and give considerable thought to potential surgical challenges and possible solutions. Once this is done, the most important thing for me is to relax the night before and get a good night’s sleep. Nothing ever good happens when you are tired.

You recently completed your MBA at the prestigious MIT Sloan School-what drove you to get your degree and how will you use it?

My Chairman Dr. Robert Dolan impressed upon me the importance of a formal management education to meet the challenges faced by physician leaders in this new era of medicine. With his support and encouragement, I chose to get the best possible education and learn from leaders across other industries. I have so many ideas on how to utilize my MBA education. I have been interested in operations, cost efficiencies, and change management, and am currently in discussions with Lahey leadership to embark on some new exciting endeavors. With time and real world experience, I hope one day to be a leader in healthcare delivery.