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BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #2

The Struggle is Real(ly Important!)

with Dr. Eric Gantwerker

We talk with Dr. Eric Gantwerker about tips and strategies to make medical education and teaching more effective.

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The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) with Dr. Eric Gantwerker on the BackTable ENT Podcast)
Ep 2 The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) with Dr. Eric Gantwerker
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2020, July 20). Ep. 2 – The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

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Podcast Contributors

Dr. Eric Gantwerker discusses The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) on the BackTable 2 Podcast

Dr. Eric Gantwerker

Eric Gantwerker is a Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Cohen Children's Hospital at Northwell Health/Hofstra, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and Vice President, Medical Director at Level Ex.

Dr. Gopi Shah discusses The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) on the BackTable 2 Podcast

Dr. Gopi Shah

Dr. Gopi Shah is a pediatric otolaryngologist and the co-host of BackTable ENT.

Dr. Ashley Agan discusses The Struggle is Real(ly Important!) on the BackTable 2 Podcast

Dr. Ashley Agan

Dr. Ashley Agan is an otolaryngologist in Dallas, TX.


In this episode, our hosts Dr. Ashley Agan and Dr. Gopi Shah are joined by Dr. Eric Gantwerker to speak about medical education and the nuances involved along different levels of training.

Dr. Gantwerker begins by discussing different possible teaching and learning styles. One idea he speaks about is cognitive load, which describes that a novice only has a certain amount of attention and cognitive attention they can focus on a topic. He also mentions the ideas of “chunking” and “zone of proximal development”; these ideas combine the ideas of constantly challenging learners with gradual responsibility and allowing the learner to repeat the same activity or action repetitively while slowly increasing the amount of activity involved as well. This keeps people in a challenged enough state to where they struggle, but not enough to where it is completely out of their ability to succeed. Dr. Gantwerker then rounds off the process by having a debriefing session afterwards, in which feedback is exchanged between both student and teacher on how the experience went. This allows for tailor-made teaching experiences for students and establishing rapport between students and teachers.

The discussion continues in what Dr. Gantwerker focuses on during the teaching process. He mentions the concept of “Line, Speed, Beauty”, which highlights the importance of first mastering basics, followed by increasing efficiency, and the aspect of beauty which naturally follows. Dr. Gantwerker ends the discussion by highlighting different learning techniques, including organizational thinking, thorough understanding, and experiential learning. He then speaks about challenges faced in current virtual environments and how to manage them.


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Dr. Gantwerker’s Twitter Handle: @DrEricGant

Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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