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Now Hear This!

Miller School ENTs take top honors in the Otolaryngology Resident Bowl

Stefania Goncalves, M.D.

Michael Ghiam, M.D.

Mikhaylo Szczupak, M.D. ’15

“Always a bridesmaid” begins the old saying about second-place finishers … but no more. After placing a close second several times, a team from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has won The Triological Society’s Otolaryngology Resident Bowl.

In January, the ENT resident team of Mikhaylo Szczupak, M.D. ’15, Stefania Goncalves, M.D., and Michael Ghiam, M.D., finally took top honors in the prestigious annual competition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event was a virtual affair. The contest pitted 20 three-person teams from residency programs across the nation against each other to test their overall ENT knowledge. Similar to medical boards, teams were given multiple-choice questions and asked to quickly provide answers.

“They might give us some facts about a case and have us stage a cancer patient or answer a question about COVID-19,” said Dr. Szczupak, who is completing his fifth year of residency. “There were around 25 questions in the first batch, and the top three teams went to the next round. Then it was sudden death — whichever teams missed three questions first were eliminated. We were the last ones standing!”

Recruiting a broad knowledge base

Last year, Dr. Szczupak was appointed captain and asked to recruit team members — preferably senior residents with a broad knowledge base. Drs. Goncalves and Ghiam, who are both in their fourth year of residency, were eager to join. Corinna Levine, M.D., and Christine D’Aguillo, M.D., both directors of resident academics, helped prepare the team for the competition.

“It was a well-rounded team because we are each interested in different ENT sub-specialties,” Dr. Szczupak said. “I’m interested in pediatric ENT, Stefania in neurotology, and Michael in rhinology and skull-based surgery. Between the three of us, we had pretty good coverage.”

While the preparation was arduous, taking almost a year, it was not much different from their normal academic preparations. Each year, residents must take an annual in-service exam to gauge their progress and prepare them for their eventual medical boards.

As they approach the end of their residencies, the members of the team will go their separate ways. Dr. Szczupak, who graduates this year, will be joining the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a general ENT physician, with plans to later pursue a pediatric fellowship. Drs. Goncalves and Ghiam graduate in the summer of 2022 and are in the process of applying for their own fellowships. The trophy gives UM bragging rights until the 2022 competition, when next year’s ENT team will make the Miller School’s first title defense.