A Lifetime of Communication; The Gift of Connection

Eugene Myers has retired from surgery and clinical practice, and is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh, but he has not stopped teaching. His true gift is the power of connection, which is a by-product of his strong lifelong communication skills.

During his fellowship in Head and Neck Surgery, he learned a technique that utilized tools of a different sort. While Dr. Myers was hard at work in the operating room, his mentor Dr. John Conley was in the doctor’s lounge making phone calls to his referring physicians with updates on their patients. He used 3×5 cards to remind himself of the details.

This technique impressed Dr. Myers as a great way to further communication with the physician community, improve relationships, bolster his practice, and promote goodwill. Years later, he still feels that direct contact either in person or through phone calls is the best way to connect, particularly with his continued commitment to international relationships through the AAO-Global Outreach Program. He has been successful in fundraising for various Otolaryngology Department projects using, of all things, his iPhone.

Other examples of connecting include social gatherings with former trainees. Dr. and Mrs. Myers spend the month of February in Houston to escape the cold Pittsburgh winters. They visit with their son Dr. Jeffrey Myers, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the MDAnderson Cancer Center, his wife Lisa, and their family.

On several occasions, Jeff has hosted a party in his home for 11 former Pitt trainees who work in Houston. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions have kept this from happening the past couple of years. Dr. Myers has not been deterred, however, as he has been setting up individual lunches and coffees. He makes it a point to keep up with everyone he can.

There are now 80 individuals who were Residents or Fellows in the Department during Dr. Myers’ 33 years as Chairman who are now professors in universities around the world. Thirty of them are Department Chairmen. Dr. Myers is in touch with all of them.

Until recently, Dr. Myers was on the Board of Directors of six organizations. Now he maintains his membership on “only” three: The Eye & Ear Foundation, Pittsburgh Festival Opera (of which he is the President), and SPOHNC (Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer). Throughout it all, he continues to demonstrate the importance of human connection.