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While MAVEN Project’s impact is most visible in improved patient outcomes and testimonials from clinic providers, a more subtle but significant benefit is that it offers a platform for physician volunteers, often retired, to continue contributing their expertise to the field.

For many physicians, the joy of retirement can come with apprehension about losing the sense of purpose that drove decades of patient care. With national physician shortages mounting, their exit from practice can also mean fewer voices of wisdom when they are badly needed.

When Dr. Tom Tilsner retired, he felt this familiar unease. But by connecting with MAVEN Project, he found both a channel and a grateful audience for his unique skill set.

An otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) for over 40 years, Dr. Tilsner was drawn to the specialty for its intriguing combination of patient care, diagnostic investigation, and surgery. He served in private practice as well as at the Tucson VA Hospital for 33 years, where he also helped train residents.

“I wanted to be a doctor from a young age,” Dr. Tilsner said. “It’s such a noble profession that I never even considered another career. Now, as a volunteer at MAVEN Project, I’m able to share advice that will hopefully ensure that patients can continue to receive care from their current providers and avoid outside referrals. I love knowing that I can help patients save those costs and time. Plus, I get the added benefit of keeping up to date with the latest in medical literature and treatment advances. It really keeps me on my toes.”

Unlike many other specialties, much of how otolaryngologists practice is based on nuanced physical exams rather than lab tests. Since many primary care providers may not know what to look for, he takes particular care in preparing consults.

“Interacting with doctors on the front lines is my favorite part of volunteering with MAVEN Project,” he shared. “Whether I’m consulting on an ear infection, trouble swallowing, or lesions in the mouth, I know both the patient and the provider are counting on me. I thoroughly review every consult I write to make sure it’s right.”

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