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20 Questions: Stacey Hudson, MD, FACS

Created 12.02.12 by Juliet Farmer
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Dr. Stacey Hudson is an otolaryngologist (ENT) in Reno, Nevada, where he has been in private practice since 2003, as well as assistant clinical professor at University of Nevada, Reno. Hudson graduated from University of Nevada, Reno, in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Human and Community Sciences with high distinction. He then attended graduate medical school at the same university before attending the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, from 94-98, where he earned his M.D. From 98-03 at the Mayo Clinic’s Mayo Graduate School of Medicine Department of otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, Dr. Hudson served as a resident in otolaryngology, as well as chief resident associate and instructor in Otolaryngology. Dr. Hudson previously worked at Quail Surgical and Pain Management Center in Reno, as well as Renown South Meadows Medical Center.

Dr. Hudson has made several presentations on numerous subjects, including pediatric ENT disorders; endoscopic treatment of cricopharyngeal disorders; Kikuchi-Fujimoto’s disease in otolaryngology; principles of treating mid-face injuries; perilymphatic fistulas diagnosis and treatment; surgical usage of lasers in otolaryngology; obstructive sleep apnea; facial plastics; velopharyngeal incompetency (VPI) in adenotonsillar surgery; lip reconstruction options in head & neck cancer surgery; surgical options in giant esophageal fibrovascular polyps; and imaging modalities in head & neck surgery. He is a member of the American College of Surgeons; American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery; American Academy of Otolaryngologic Allergy; and Washoe County Medical Association. Dr. Hudson has volunteered extensively, most recently with Project New Hope – Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, as well as the Craniofacial Clinic – University of Nevada, Reno.

When did you first decide to become an ENT? Why?
I was about 22 years old when I started thinking about ENT. At the time, I was working in the operating room and was able to work with several different types of surgeons. I thought that the actual surgeries being done were interesting in ENT as I had had some ENT problems as a child. Plus, I felt that the ENTs were the ones that had a better disposition and seemed happier with their lives.

How/why did you choose the medical school you went to?
I chose my home state medical school because of cost and selection criteria. I had known several individuals that had become ENT physicians going through the program. So I had thought that if they could do it, I could as well.

What surprised you the most about your ENT studies?
The residency and the private practice are worlds apart. You spend as much time in the hospital as any surgical residency, but when you go into private practice a larger portion of your life is in the clinic/office setting.

If you had it to do all over again, would you still become an ENT? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
Yes; I enjoy doing what I do. I find that it is a specialty that allows you a large amount of area to master. Most people think that ENT is a rather narrow area of practice. But the anatomical complexity above the shoulders is much more intricate than that below. Each field within ENT is a field of its own as well. So it allows you to be able to delve more into areas that interest you such as otology, rhinology, head and neck surgery, pediatrics, etc. If I hadn’t done ENT, I probably would have done General surgery because I do like the ability to operate and fix things.

Has being an ENT met your expectations? Why?
Yes; it has been a very rewarding field and I enjoy it. About the only negatives to this field is that healthcare in general is under attack with the constant changes by government. The paperwork is increasing exponentially, the regulations are increasing exponentially, and nobody really is helping to improve the practice of medicine by any of it.

What do you like most about being an ENT?
It’s very challenging both mentally and physically.

What do you like least about being an ENT?
Some other physicians do not understand much about our given field. We make up a very small percentage of all physicians, and as such, most other medical doctors really have no understanding of what we do. It makes for a somewhat lonely profession.

What was it like finding a job in your chosen career field? What were your options and why did you decide what you did?
Finding a position should not be difficult. There are not many ENTs trained every year, and by and large most ENTs are nearing the age of retirement. I decided to go into practice for myself so that is becoming more of a rarity. I did it because I like the ability to run my own practice from the ground up.

Describe a typical day at work.
Generally if I am in the office I am there by 7:45 a.m. and I see patients all day until noon. Starting back at 1 p.m., I see patients until about 5 p.m. and finish up documentation and attend any meetings that I may need to go to. However, if the day is a surgery day, I am in the operating room at 7:30 a.m. and go until I am finished with cases.

Do you work with mid-level providers (NPs, Pas, CRNAs, etc.), and if so, what kind(s)?
I do not work with any in my office at this time. I do, however, have several that refer to me, such as APNs and PAs for consultations, and sometimes they may have questions or need advice regarding patients that they are seeing in the office.

On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
About 50 hours is about a normal work week for me. Sleeping generally depends on call (which is home call, mostly). Personally, I take about two weeks of vacation a year, but I know that others like to take more.

Are you satisfied with your income?
In a word, no. As a self-employed physician, you run your own practice, so the added stress of managing your practice and seeing patients is a bit overwhelming. Unlike most physicians that take employed positions, I see how things are deteriorating progressively as far as reimbursement goes.

If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
Yes. It is difficult to see that while reimbursement continues to decrease all other expenses of running a private practice climb. Paying back your loans, however, is ever present. I think that it would be fair to tell future surgeons that they will make slightly more than an APN or PA, but will owe twice as much.

In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself when you started your ENT career?
If you can honestly do this and be happy making slightly more than the nursing staff, then go ahead. Otherwise, consider other options.

What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were beginning your medical studies?
Stop and smell the roses. ENT is extremely competitive and is difficult to get into, overly so.

From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
Everyone wants the best. No one wants to pay for it.

Where do you see ENT in 10 years?
I see a severe manpower shortage in all specialties in 10 years. The average age of an ENT physician is upper 50s to early 60s. Most–if not all–physicians will begin shortening their careers, because medicine simply is not what it used to be. As the nation ages (Baby Boomers), we will be left to care for many more patient than we are able to with our current health care force. This, coupled with the trend of increasing employed physicians rather than self-employed physicians, will add to the workforce shortage.

What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I take call at four emergency rooms. I do not need to volunteer, as 95 percent of all care delivered in the emergency room is gratis.

Do you have family? If so, do you have enough time to spend with them? How do you balance work and life outside of work?
Yes I have family, but no I do not have enough time to spend with them. I don’t think you will find any surgeon that can answer otherwise unless they are nearing retirement.

Do you have any final piece of advice for students interested in pursuing ENT as a career?
What makes an ideal physician is to know people, including themselves. Be honest with yourself and understand that ENT is overly competitive. You may not get in. You must have a back-up plan that you believe will be rewarding. Whether that is general surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology or another medical specialty depends on you and your interests. But definitely make a plan.

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Comments

  1. anon says:

    wow this guy is a douche

    1. Anon says:

      He’s not a douche. He’s telling it like it is. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

      However his comment about ENTs making slightly more than PAs is disingenuous. ENT ~$325,000 (range of $230,000-$400,000). PA ~$85,000.

      1. Reply says:

        He said future surgeons, not current ones. And with this disgustingly bloated healthcare bill he probably isn’t too far off.

  2. Hu says:

    This guy is a piece of work. He needs to bail and pick another profession. He doesn’t need to volunteer? Common

    1. Anon says:

      He takes call at four ERs. He likely spends nights sewing up Reno meth heads and assorted ghetto fabulous folks for free.

      What have you done for your local lowlifes?

  3. Doc says:

    This is a honest representation of what medicine is coming to. With rising healthcare costs, lower insurance reimbursements, Medicare cuts, and Obamacare, it is going to become increasingly difficult, if not impossible to be a self-employed physician or surgeon. Self-employed physicians are going to be cutting jobs in their offices because of the $250,000 income or higher “rich” people tax hike, just so they can stay below the $250,000. And don’t forget about the rising cost of education that is steering very qualified people away from medicine altogether. It is becoming cost-prohibitive to see patients on Medicare due to reimbursement rates. When you are better off not seeing a patient on Medicare because it costs more for the supplies to do the exam, you know there is a problem. If you went to school for 7+ years, I would hope you expect to be paid like you did. Money is not everything, but when you start doing a total hip replacement for 60-70% less than you did 10-15 years ago, it is a slap in the face to the education you received and skills you obtained. There are many doctors who if you told them it was going to be like this when they started, they would have chosen a different career path. People go in to medicine to help people, but also to have a nice income raise a family, send your kids to college, etc. The hours you put in vs the income are hardly worth it in some instances now. Call this guy a douche or whatever you want, but he just painted a very real picture of what medicine is today.

    1. Cecilia says:

      Great comment – neither ignorant nor arrogant.

  4. Brian says:

    Great article, with these template interviews its really easy for people to paint a rosy picture of their profession without delving into any details about the down sides. Thank you for the refreshing honesty Dr. Hudson. It helps people be realistic about the their expectations for their future careers.

  5. Chuck says:

    This guys needs to learn how to write a sentence.

  6. Captain J says:

    The honesty in this article is refreshing. I am always skeptical of these interviews when docs (of all disciplines) say their loans are not a strain. The idealist in all of us wants to think best of our future professions, however there are dark clouds over the horizons. The math is simple…. lower reimbursements + rising tuition + higher taxes = lower physician salaries.

    And can you blame the guy for not volunteering? He works 50-60 hour weeks, only takes 2 weeks of vacation a year, and barely sees his family as it is. Then when you add his jaded view of the healthcare system, i wouldn’t volunteer either.

  7. Collin says:

    I have shadowed this guy and was also a patient of his. This man IS an amazing doctor and really knows his stuff. As a medical student myself I can really see how frustrating it is and to see how much he works really doesn’t do justice. If medicine doesn’t take a step in the right direction I think its going to be scary.

  8. Maybe, Maybe Not says:

    Finally, someone with balls to give honest answers and not sugar coat being a doctor.

    Finally, someone who actually has to pay back loans and feels what that is like while busting their butt everyday. Most of the time they find someone who says “Fortunately loans were not an issue for me because my parents were always able to help out my education.” Blah.

  9. Ladholyman says:

    Why did this article disappear from the front page?

  10. Aaron says:

    Scary but refreshing…

  11. S. Hudson, MD says:

    As a follow-up to some of the comments:

    @Anon: I am sorry you feel I am a “douche”, I really am telling you like it is…
    @Hu: When you work and cover an ER where 31/33 patients are no-pays (actual numbers) in a weekend then you lecture me about “volunteering”. You make me laugh…very loudly.
    @Chuck: I didn’t edit this. SDN did the editing.
    @Collin: Thank you very much, I appreciate those comments.

  12. chikuu says:

    Thank you for an honest article. You’ve said what few has the courage to say.

  13. Bunny says:

    You kiddies better listen up to this doc. After over 10 years of seeing over 5 different ENTs (both here and at UC Davis), this guy was the only one to figure out my issue and FIX IT FOR GOOD! I’ve got my life back thanks to this guy. He’s AMAZING, and he knows what he’s talking about.

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