Finally getting to meet Dr. Sims was pretty cool. He is a very admirable person. He speaks with a calm and certain tone. From the moment I met him, I knew he meant business. In his office, there are signed and framed posters from some of the musicians he’s worked with: Jersey Boys, Wicked, and Alicia Keys just to name a few. He has his diplomas from Yale, the American Board of Otolaryngology, and for his fellowship at Vanderbilt. Aside from a typical desk, printer, and bookshelves, Dr. Sims has a piano stationed with a recognition certificate from The Recording Academy.
As I speak to Dr. Sims more, he tells me more about himself, and my respect continues to grow. He is an African-American man originally from West Virginia. He chose to work in the field of otolaryngology because he values the voice. Finding out that he could help treat, maintain, and assist people and their vocals cords sparked interest in him the moment he found out. With a prior interest in medicine, combined with a musical upbringing (he
Day one, Dr. Sims took me to see patients with him. Given a white lab coat, I sat in and observed as he worked with different patients. Patients come to get ‘scoped,’ which is a process that allows Dr. Sims to see down patients’ throats and identify anything unhealthy and view their vocal cords. If you’ve never seen vocal cords, it looks kind of like a pair of vertical grey lips:
When the vocals cords are closed, they vibrate against each other repeatedly. This vibration is what creates the sounds we make with our voices. The vocal cord is typically open and relaxed when we are just breathing and not talking, or singing.
Dr. Sims primary tools are his flexible and rigid scopes. The rigid scope looks kind of like a metal straw with a light on it. It is used to see down the throat directly. This means Dr. Sims has to go directly through the patient’s mouth. For some, this is not a pleasant sensation. There is a spray that he will use sometimes to numb the area for a bit, and allow him to view more down throat without patients feeling uncomfortable. The flexible scope looks kind of like a curvy black noodle, and is remote controlled and can change directions. This is put through the nose, and then can see down the throat.
For every patient, Dr. Sims takes a video of the examination using the scope, and takes up to six photographs of distinct moments and features down the throat. He then shows the patients, and discusses what he sees and what it all means. For me, observing this has been very interesting. I have never been scoped myself, and I cannot imagine the discomfort of something going down my nose or throat. Dr. Sims always does a good job of walking through the patient through the process very calmly, and speaking to them and occasionally throwing in humor. He is very professional and charismatic. All of the patients seem to really love him. He has a way of connecting with them and showing that he actually cares for his patients, while still getting necessary information from them for their visits.
There are other physicians in the clinic. Dr. Thambi and Dr. Rubenfeld both specialize in general ENT (ear, nose, and throat). Dr. Yu and Dr. Redleaf specialize in otology (study of the ear). Dr. Wenig and Dr. Jefferson specialize in head and neck cancer. Dr. Joe is a sinus and allergy specialize, and then Dr. Thomas, Dr. Dixon, and Dr. Toriumi specialize in facial plastics. I will hopefully interact with some of them, and get to learn about their subspecialties and see them at work.
Medicine is so interesting, and there are so many different specialties and subfields one can go into. I have learned of new things to study and different positions I never even considered existed prior to being in the clinic, and this is just the field of otolaryngology! There’s also a team of nurses that Even though I’ve always thought I wanted to go into orthopedics, being an ENT so far seems very interesting, and definitely something I’ll consider as I continue to near closer to medical school.