Linda Brodsky, an internationally recognized pediatric ENT surgeon, died Feb. 13 in Buffalo, N.Y. She was 61.
Dr. Linda Brodsky was the daughter of Zelda and Milton Brodsky. She is survived by her devoted husband Saul Greenfield and their three children: Jeremy, Dana and Rebecca.
Born May 25, 1952 in Long Island, N.Y., Linda graduated from Bryn Mawr College with honors in 1974 and then medical school at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now Drexel University. She completed her residency in Ear, Nose and Throat surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.
In 1983, she moved to Buffalo, where she took a full-time faculty position in the State University of New York at Buffalo Medical School and at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (now the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo). She later became the director of the hospital’s Center for Pediatric Otolaryngology and Communication Disorders.
Linda’s accomplishments as a researcher, an educator and a surgeon were extensive. She published a number of award-winning papers and earned the title of tenured full professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine — one of only 12 women to have achieved this ranking at the time. She authored or co-authored over 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and 27 book chapters. Her book on pediatric swallowing and feeding disorders, Pediatric Swallowing and Feeding: Assessment and Management, written with her colleague Dr. Joan Arvedson, is a classic in the field and was undergoing planning for its third edition. She was one of the few Buffalo-based members of the Triological Society, an elite organization that only admits the most academically accomplished ENT surgeons.
Linda introduced the Brodsky Classification of tonsillar disease, a diagnostic tool used around the world. She was primary investigator or co-investigator in over two million dollars of industry and federally funded research. She served on the editorial boards of several pediatric ENT journals, including The International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, Acta Otolaryngologica and The Journal of Respiratory Diseases. She was an invited keynote speaker and visiting professor at many national meetings and academic departments of otolaryngology. She served on the boards of the ENT section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children (SENTAC) and the American Society for Pediatric Otolaryngology. Most recently she served on the Women in Otolaryngology Committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, which was designated the model committee for 2013 by the academy.
She received numerous awards, including the Sylvan Stool award for excellence in teaching by SENTAC. Later this spring she was to receive the Tucker Award for her excellence and contributions to pediatric laryngology by the American Laryngological Association. At the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo she established an advanced training fellowship in pediatric ENT, which ended after her departure from the directorship. During her tenure at Children’s, she and colleagues were honored by New York state for quality improvement work. Her devotion to her patients and tenacity in advocating for their care was legendary, as evidenced by the hundreds of letters and cards she received over the years from families expressing gratitude. Her professional accomplishments are recorded in her ebook, Only She Who Attempts the Absurd Can Achieve the Impossible, which is available on her personal website.
Of everything Linda accomplished in her 30-year career, many are most familiar with that which she endured and achieved over the last 15. In 2007, she emerged from a nearly decade-long federal court battle in which she was the plaintiff, claiming gender-based discrimination and Equal Pay Act violations against her two employers, which ended in settlement. Once Linda realized that gender discrimination had not gone away but had rather simply taken on a new form, she founded Women MD Resources, her organization dedicated to helping women physicians navigate the medical work environment. Linda was an extraordinary advocate for the mentorship of younger women in medicine, often acting as a mother figure to those whom she chose and those who chose her. An annual lectureship and scholarship fund in her name have been recently established at the American Medical Women’s Association and she was to be given the Bertha Van Hoosen award for service to that organization.
Over the last five years, Linda had begun mapping out what it would take for health care organizations to better cater not only to women but also to a whole new generation of physicians. She envisioned flexible schedules, a humane approach to residency and an increase of women in leadership positions.
Linda and her husband were engaged philanthropically in the community and were major financial backers of the Kadimah Jewish Day School in Buffalo. As a proponent of a life balanced between work, family and other pursuits, Linda enjoyed Scrabble marathons, ocean swimming near the family home on Martha’s Vineyard, competing in tennis and helping to lead the Busy Women’s Book Club in Buffalo. It wasn’t that she only chose to do things that she loved; it’s that she chose to love the things she was committed to doing. According to her family, Linda’s parting gift in life was her approach to living it.