Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
In the late nineteenth century, otolaryngology was not taught as a combined specialty as it is today. Otologists, who were specialists in diseases of the ear, also treated nose and throat diseases. Laryngologists focused on the throat but often found themselves invading the field of otology. At this time there were few institutions in America devoted to the treatment of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat; the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary was one of the few major centers of otolaryngology. Residencies and internships were not available, so most specialists were forced to seek training overseas.
In 1893 senior students at the medical school were required to attend an hour of instruction each week in diseases of the eye and ear. They were also obliged to receive an hour of practical instruction in diseases of the nose and throat via lectures and clinics. In 1895 Frederick L. Jack, who was then chairman of the otology department, began teaching students at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He was succeeded by Dr. Edward Plummer (1903-1924) and Dr. Harry Cahill (1924-1929), the nation's first neuro-otologist.
In 1895 Dr. William S. Boardman began teaching larnygology at the Boston Dispensary. Ten years later Dr. William E. Chenery, who was chief of laryngology at the Boston Dispensary, was appointed the first chair of that department at the medical school; he served in this capacity until 1929, when otology and laryngology were joined to become a single division. Dr. Harry Inglis was named professor and chair of the new department and chief of otolaryngology at the Boston Dispensary. In 1937 he was succeeded by Dr. Philip Meltzer, M1918, who had trained at the Eye and Ear Infirmary and who was in turn succeeded by Dr. J. Charles Drooker, M1933. He led the department from 1945 to 1968. During these years Tufts students were taught otolaryngology at the Boston City Hospital, the Boston Dispensary, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the Beth Israel Hospital. Courses for third-year students stressed the examination of patients and the treatment of common ear, nose, and throat ailments.
In 1968 Dr. Werner Chasin, was named the first full-time professor and chair of otolaryngology as well as the chief of that division at the New England Medical Center; he subsequently restructured the division to include full-time faculty at both the Boston City Hospital and the New England Medical Center. The residency program, which had been freestanding at the Boston City Hospital, began to involve the New England Medical Center as well. When Tufts withdrew from the Boston City Hospital in 1974, a joint otolaryngology residency program was established with Boston University.
Today, the department is primarily involved in patient care, clinical research, and teaching activities. First-year students now take a class on the inner ear as part of their neuroscience course, while second-year students are taught the examination of the ear, nose, and throat. Third-year students spend one week on the otolaryngology service at one of Tufts' teaching hospitals, and fourth-year students may choose from a number of electives.
Many alumni have achieved distinction as leaders in the field of otolaryngology, including Drs. Meltzer, M1918, Drooker, M1933, and Chasm, M1958, and Drs. Richard Fabian, M1966, Floyd Goffin, M1956, Daniel Miller M1939, Alan Nahum, M1957, Robert Ossof, M1975, and Elliot Strong, M1956.
Source: COE, 145-46