The AAO-HNS is the world’s largest organization representing otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons – physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck.
In 2021 the Academy celebrates 125 years! From its founding in 1896 to the present, the Academy works to bringing physicians together in service of the specialty and patient care. Over the past 125 years, our members have proved time and again that their commitment to patients, to medicine, and to their specialty is unwavering.
Early Academy History
In 1896, Dr. Hal Foster – an otolaryngologist in Kansas City, Missouri – called the first meeting of what would later become the American Academy of Otolaryngology‒Head and Neck Surgery. For that first meeting, he invited about 500 ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists who practiced in the southern and western states. He had hopes of creating a medical society in the region.
A small number of doctors responded and together they formed the Western Ophthalmological, Otological, Laryngological and Rhinological Association. In 1898 the association became known as the Western Ophthalmologic and Oto-Laryngologic Association. By 1901, however, the group realized that its members were drawn from all over the country, not just the west. So in 1903 the organization became the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Oto-Laryngology. By then the membership reached 185 physicians. Just four years later, at 434 members, the Academy was the largest specialty society in the United States.
Early in its history, the Academy took upon itself the task of improving graduate education. In 1913 the Academy organized two committees to develop plans for standardizing graduate training in ophthalmology and otolaryngology. Working with similar committees in sister societies, these committees led to the creation of the first specialty boards – ophthalmology in 1913 and otolaryngology in 1924. These boards set standards for medical specialty education. Those who wished to practice either specialty had to pass the appropriate board examinations.
The Academy further instituted the Postgraduate Course, later known as instruction courses, in 1921 to supplement the education already received at the annual meetings. Almost 600 people registered the first year. These courses were first given after the annual meeting, but by 1927 they were incorporated into the structure of the meeting itself.
In 1938 Academy secretary Harry Gradle, MD, suggested an innovative idea to further specialty education: the development of home study courses by the Academy. Initially designed as a “stop-gap” measure to help fill the holes of specialty education, they evolved into a useful resource for continued education. The courses first began in 1940 with 485 registrants. Nine sections were included in the otolaryngology course: anatomy I and II; histology-pathology; physiology; bacteriology; biochemistry; otolaryngologic examination; hearing tests; and vestibular tests.
April 9-10, 1896 – In response to an invitation by Hal Foster, MD, a group of practicing ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists gathered in Kansas City, Missouri. A two-day program of scientific papers was held followed by the formation of a new society, the Western Association of Ophthalmologists, Otologists, and Laryngologists.
1898 – Name changed to Western Ophthalmologic and Oto-Laryngologic Association.
1903 – Name changed to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology.
1903 – Transactions from meetings in 1896 and 1897 were collected, preserved, and disseminated, and beginning in 1903, these papers were released in a bound, hardcover collection as the Transactions of theAmerican Academy of Ophthalmology and Oto-Laryngology.
1913 – The Academy established two committees to standardize graduate training in ophthalmology and otolaryngology. This led to the creation of the first medical specialty boards—ophthalmology in 1913 and otolaryngology in 1924.
1921- The Academy established the Research Fund, using an investment of $27,000 endowed by Liberty Bonds purchased during World War I.
1938 – Academy secretary Harry Gradle, MD, suggested the development of Home Study Courses.
1980 – American Academy of Otolaryngology added Head and Neck Surgery to its name to become American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
1981 – At the annual business meetings of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the American Council of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, both memberships voted in favor of merging the two associations. The new association, named the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, was set to begin to function January 1, 1982. It was structured to continue both the scientific and education functions of the AAO-HNS and the governmental and socio-economic functions of the ACO-HNS.
1981 – The Academy changes the name of its Journal to what it is known as today, Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.
1982 – First Annual Meeting of the newly formed American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1982 – The Academy’s Perceiver and the ACO’s newsletters are combined to form the new AAO-HNS.
1982 – The Board of Governors (BOG) was a critical part of the new organization stemming from the ACO. The BOG held its first meeting in 1982 in New Orleans, Louisiana, with Marvin Singleton, MD, as the first chair.
1983 – The Foundation Research Endowment Fund was formally announced in December 1983. This initiative resulted in the Centralized Otolaryngology Research Efforts (CORE) program in 1985.
1996 – The Academy launched its first website entnet.org.
1996 – AAO-HNSF created the International Affairs Program with Eugene N. Myers, MD, FRCS Edin (Hon) serving as the first Coordinator of International Affairs.
2001 – The new AAO-HNS Section for Residents and Fellows in Training is initiated to give residents both support and an opportunity to shape their chosen specialty.
2002 – The Physician Payment Policy (3P) Workgroup is formed to coordinate payment activities and actions including code updates.
2006 – Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, MBA, Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Editor in Chief, led the AAO-HNSF efforts in developing quality knowledge products, including clinical practice guidelines and clinical consensus statements.
2007 – AcademyU launched as the AAO-HNSF new online education platform.
2008 –The AAO-HNS/F moved its headquarters to 1650 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, Virginia, after 20 years headquartered at One Prince Street, Alexandria, Virginia.
2010 – The Women in Otolaryngology (WIO) Committee was transitioned to the WIO Section.
2012 – The Hal Foster, MD Endowment created.
2014 – The Young Physicians Committee was transitioned into the Young Physicians Section (YPS).
2015 – The AAO-HNSF Board of Directors approved the development of a clinical data registry for otolaryngology-head and neck surgery to allow an organized system of data collection, storage, and dissemination for research and quality reporting. This registry is now operated as Reg-entSM and integrates a variety of data, including specialty-specific measures and patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) into a powerful platform both for members and industry partners.
2018 – ENThealth.org was launched as the AAO-HNSF patient-focused website.
2020 – The AAO-HNSF 2020 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience was offered as the first-ever Academy virtual meeting.
2020 – OTO Logic was unveiled as the successor to AcademyU® to reflect the Foundation’s growing network of digital products.
2020 – FLEX was launched to replace the Home Study Course.
2021 – The AAO-HNS/F celebrates its 125th Anniversary.
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