NBC’s Dr. Nancy on TV, Surgery, and Academia’s Glass Ceiling

; Nancy L. Snyderman, MD


November 01, 2013

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In This Article

Editor's Note:
In this segment of One-on-One, Medscape Editor-in-Chief Eric J. Topol, MD, talks with NBC Chief Medical Editor, Nancy Snyderman, MD, about her Midwestern upbringing, her work as an ENT surgeon, trying to break the glass ceiling in science and medicine, and why physicians are still overscreening patients.


Eric J. Topol, MD: Hello. I'm Dr. Eric Topol, Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. It's really a thrill to have Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor for NBC News, joining me today. And it's a chance for me to turn the tables, because you've interviewed me for Rock Center about mobile devices for medicine.

Nancy L. Snyderman, MD: I swept into your life for 3 days, disrupted everything, and came back having learned more than I've learned in the past 10 years, so I got the better part of the deal, I think.

A Career in Surgery

Dr. Topol: I want to go back [in time] because you have a pretty unique career and it would be great for the medical community to learn about that. I know you are an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon and you are still on staff at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Snyderman: Yes. I started as a pediatrician and I did my pediatrics residency at the University of Pittsburgh, and then realized early on that I really, really loved surgery. That was really my introduction in pediatric ENT, but I really fell in love with adult head and neck cancer. So for the past 30 years, I have been [a surgeon specializing] in adult head and neck cancer, and then I left the operating room 2 years ago.

Midwestern Upbringing

Dr. Topol: You grew up in St. Louis, and then you went to Little Rock at the University of Arkansas?

Dr. Snyderman: I'm a Midwesterner all of the way through. I was born in St. Louis and my dad was a doctor in Indiana. I was schooled at Indiana University, then I went to University of Nebraska, and then to the University of Pittsburgh for my residency. There is no blue blood in me; I am a state school kid, and I went from there to the University of Arkansas where I had my first faculty position. After 5 years in Arkansas I went to the University of California at San Francisco, for 17 years.


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