Meet the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Voice Center

A love of singing led Dr. Bryson to his specialty

Paul Bryson’s, MD, love of singing started in high school and continued throughout college and medical school. Since starting practice at Cleveland Clinic in 2010, he’s been a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and had the chance to perform the national anthem at games for the city’s professional sports teams, including the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Dr. Bryson credits his love of singing as the reason he chose his specialty. “I turned my hobby into a professional interest,” he says. Today, as a laryngologist and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Voice Center, he is helping patients find their voices.

How did your passion for singing impact your career choice?

I sang in the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh during medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. During this time, an otolaryngologist came and spoke at our medical school about micro-surgery of the vocal cords and the subspecialty of laryngology. I became so taken with the possibilities for helping patients with voice, swallowing and airway problems that I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I subsequently got involved with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Voice Center and the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Department.

How do you build meaningful relationships with patients?

My background in singing and vocal performance has helped me connect with my professional singing and speaking patients. I feel I am able to speak their language and relate on a practical level with their daily demands and any issues they may be having. I attribute my ability to build rapport and understanding with patients to my upbringing in Western Pennsylvania. We have a close-knit family and a close-knit community where people take the time to get to know one another.

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What is the most rewarding part of your profession?

I take great pride in helping improve the quality of life of my patients. Voice and swallowing function are often not appreciated until they are impaired. Doing procedures and surgeries that restore a patient’s ability to communicate with their friends and family and return to work or singing is highly gratifying. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the satisfaction I get from mentoring and educating medical students, residents and fellows. We have been able to perform and publish a number of research studies that have been fun and intellectually stimulating. And they have helped to promote the careers of my trainees as they move forward in their careers.

What keeps you excited about your field?

There are still many unsolved problems within laryngology, and I’m excited to continue to seek answers to these problems. I’m also looking forward to the future of our voice center and the section of laryngology, as we recruit additional partners in laryngology and speech pathology. We continue to raise awareness of voice and swallowing disorders so we can touch as many lives as possible.

What activities do you enjoy doing with your family in Cleveland?

We have found Cleveland and the surrounding area to be a great place to live with our children. We try to stay active and we enjoy the North Chagrin Reservation [part of the city’s park system], the Lake County Farm Park and the Great Lakes Science Center.