Eric A. Gantwerker, M.D. Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center
UTSW Physician Practicing at Children's Health
As an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor (also called an otolaryngologist), Dr. Eric Gantwerker sees patients at Children’s Health℠ with everything from nosebleeds to complex airway problems.
Dr. Gantwerker splits his time at Children’s between surgery and seeing patients. As a surgeon, he specializes in complicated airway problems, including reconstructing airways. He became interested in airway surgeries during his residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he trained with the surgeon who pioneered airway reconstruction techniques. He received further training in airway reconstruction during his fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital.
Working with children is particularly enjoyable for Dr. Gantwerker. “When you get a child smiling, it brightens your day,” he says. It’s also gratifying to see how surgery can really change a life. “For children who have a chronic tracheostomy and narrowing of the airway, we can do a surgery that allows them to get their tube out and they breathe normally. That is very rewarding.”
Even more-routine procedures can make a big difference for a child. For example, removing tonsils can dramatically help a child who is having trouble sleeping (and thereby having trouble concentrating in school). “It can make a night-and-day difference,” he says. That’s what Dr. Gantwerker likes about this specialty. “We’re presented with a problem, and we try to find ways to solve it.”
Dr. Gantwerker is board-certified in otolaryngology. In addition to his practice, he is also an ENT surgeon at the Multidisciplinary Pediatric Aerodigestive Center (MPAC) at Children’s Medical Center. MPAC helps children with complex airway and swallowing disorders. Families can see ENT, gastroenterology and pulmonary services in one visit, at one location. “It saves families time. We each bring our area of expertise and then discuss each case and come up with a unified plan to treat the child,” he says.
Dr. Gantwerker, who is also an assistant professor of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is currently working on his master’s degree in medical education through Harvard Medical School. While he loves medicine, he also loves education. “Medicine has been taught the same way for the last 100 years,” he says. By studying curriculum development and educational technology and researching how people learn, he is hoping to change how medicine is taught and bring it into the 21st century.
Dr. Gantwerker also has a special interest in quality and safety. He helped develop a course through Harvard’s online platform (HarvardX) along with the Institute on Healthcare Improvement (IHI) on quality improvement in health care. He currently leads a large multidisciplinary quality and safety improvement effort around tracheostomy care at the hospital.
When he is not seeing patients, Dr. Gantwerker enjoys playing basketball, downhill skiing and running with his dog. He tries to travel to Europe for vacation whenever he can, but he is very happy right where he is. “I love the culture of being at a children’s hospital,” he says. “Here, children truly do come first.”