By Dr. Matt Carlson, Neurotologist and Professor of Otolaryngology
What is Headmirror?
Headmirror is an independent open-access website dedicated to the production and dissemination of high-quality educational content for otolaryngology residents, staff, interested medical students and also affiliated specialties including audiology. Currently, the site has a core team of approximately 30 otolaryngology residents and staff from many centers across the U.S. who contribute on a regular basis, and several hundred less common contributors from the U.S. and internationally.
Our vision is to create a high-quality resource that is freely available to trainees in the U.S. and globally, including developing countries, where such resources may be limited. The irony of the current education delivery model is that the best resources are often hidden behind a firewall or subscription, and the end users who will benefit most often do not have the financial means to access such content.
What inspired you to create Headmirror?
The surgical specialty of otolaryngology is relatively small when compared to internal medicine, general surgery or other more broad areas of medicine. Because of this, medical students may not become exposed to this specialty until later in training, which is unfortunate. Furthermore, otolaryngology remains one of the more competitive specialties to match into, and thus, early exposure and planning can improve match success. One of the main goals of the site is then to enhance early visibility of the specialty and to attract the “best and the brightest” applicants to our field.
Otolarynology is a tremendous specialty with incredible breadth, encompassing seven distinct subspecialties that collectively care for men and women, and infants to nonagenarians – as we say, from dura to pleura (and sometimes intradural as well). Also, because we are a relatively small specialty, educational resources within our field are less developed than other larger counterparts. We saw an opportunity to develop new content according to perceived educational gaps, and also to organize and pull together existing content from other resources that people may not know about. I have to say, Headmirror has been one of the most fun, exciting and rewarding projects I have ever been a part of. I love our team the collective enthusiasm and energy for education everyone radiates.
Who visits Headmirror?
We’ve received over 700,000 unique page hits to-date, from viewers worldwide. We receive from between 200 to 400 unique viewers daily, and have approximately 6,000 regular subscribers to our podcast “ENT in a Nutshell.” We believe that most of our viewers are residents, interested medical studies and otolaryngology staff; however, we have received a number of emails from providers of related fields, including audiology, neurology, neurosurgery, primary care doctors, emergency medicine physicians and even industry partners.
There is a wide variety of content on the Headmirror website. Which section(s) do your visitors find most valuable and why?
We have general content about the field of otolaryngology and also about all the different subspecialties. With regard to educational content, our main sections include:
- A surgical video atlas containing high resolution, narrated surgical videos
- A podcast that covers medical educational material, but also business of medicine topics
- A 3D temporal bone atlas
- A section that summarizes recent clinical guidelines
- A survival guide providing concise information for on-call consults
How do you envision the future of Headmirror?
We are currently working on developing an app that will improve ease of access to much of our core educational content. I hope that we will be able to develop a mechanism to support free CME. We also have a couple other projects in the pipeline that we hope to introduce in the coming year.