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Dr. Randall Porter – Acoustic Neuroma Surgeries

 In Podcast

Randall Porter, M.D., is a top neurosurgeon at Barrow Brain and Spine, a physician-owned specialty practice focused in the areas of neurosurgery, advanced spine care, and pain management. 

Dr. Porter went to Southern Methodist University for his undergraduate studies and then attended Rush Medical College in his hometown of Chicago. He completed his neurological surgery residency at Barrow Neurological Institute. He now works with Dr. Mark Syms at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Dr. Randall Porter shares his journey into medicine and a bit of his family history
  • Dr. Porter explains how he made his way into the Barrow Neurological Institute
  • Why Dr. Porter decided to pursue one of the hardest surgeries in all of neurosurgery
  • Dr. Porter describes a particular surgery that he performed and some of the challenges that it involved
  • What have acoustic neuromas taught Dr. Porter about hearing?
  • The people Dr. Porter appreciates for his medical achievements 
  • How to get in touch with Dr. Randall Porter

In this episode…

Medical doctors have a duty to see patients, diagnose and identify medical problems, and develop a treatment plan. However, there’s more to it than that. Properly caring for patients takes more than being knowledgeable about their medical conditions. 

Dr. Randall Porter believes that only knowing how to treat an illness is not enough — you also need to know how to treat the person. Being the kind of doctor patients can trust to make the right decisions for their health and life is something he takes seriously. For Dr. Porter, knowing his patients as individuals is an essential part of caring for them. After all, everyone is different — and their treatment should be too.

In this week’s episode of Listen Up!, Dr. Mark Syms is joined by Dr. Randall Porter, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Brain and Spine, to talk about acoustic neuroma surgeries and determining the best treatment plans for patients. Dr. Porter shares what led him to a career in neurosurgery, one patient story that’s stuck with him through the years, and some of the challenges he faces in his practice. Stay tuned!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by the Arizona Hearing Center.

The Arizona Hearing Center is a cutting-edge hearing care facility providing comprehensive, family-focused care. Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from some sort of hearing loss, more than half of whom are younger than the age of 65. That’s why the team at the Arizona Hearing Center is focused on providing the highest-quality care using innovative technologies and inclusive treatment plans. 

As the Founder of the Arizona Hearing Center, Dr. Mark Syms is passionate about helping patients effectively treat their hearing loss so that they can stay connected with their family and friends and remain independent. He knows first-hand how hearing loss can impact social connection and effective communication. By relying on three core values—empathy, education, and excellence—Dr. Syms and his team of hearing loss experts are transforming the lives of patients. 

So what are you waiting for? Stop missing out on the conversation and start improving your quality of life today!  

To learn more about the Arizona Hearing Center, visit or call us at 602-307-9919. We don’t sell hearing aids—we treat your hearing loss.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the Listen Up! podcast where we explore hearing loss, communication, connections and health.

Dr. Mark Syms  0:17  

Hey, this is Dr. Mark Syms here, I’m the host of the Listen Up! podcast where I feature top leaders in health care. This episode is brought to you by Arizona Hearing Center. I help patients to effectively treat their hearing loss so they can connect better with their families and friends and remain independent. The reason I’m so passionate about helping patients is because I lost my brother Robbie twice. FIrst from his hearing loss from the radiation to his brain tumor and again when he passed away. I only care for ears. I’m the E of ENT. I’ve performed over 10,000 surgeries over the past 20 years. I’m the founder of The Arizona Hearing Center. I’m the author of Listen Up!. Go to about the book. And clinically you can contact me at I’m excited today because I have Dr. Randall Porter. He’s a neurosurgical colleague of mine. We’ve been working together for 20 years. Oh my gosh 20 years. He’s a top neurosurgeon at the Barrow Brain and Spine. We work together at the Barrow Neurological Institute. He went to SMU for undergrad and then attended Rush Medical College in his hometown of Chicago. He did his neurosurgical training in Barrow, which led to our paths crossing. I’m excited to have him today. Randall, welcome to Listen Up! How are you doing man? 

Dr. Randall Porter 01:23


Dr. Mark Syms 01:24

Hey, listen, you know, one of the things I love to ask people is, you know, always what’s your medical journey? Right? You were born one day, you’re moving along? How’d you end up coming? A doctor? What was the journey that took you to go into medicine? You don’t come from a medical family, right? 

Dr. Randall Porter  01:39

I did kind of so it probably starts more with my mother. She was one of 16 children in Saskatchewan, Canada. Wow. And all the same parents, they grew up on a farm with no running water, no electricity. And when she was 14, when everyone was 14, you got kicked off the farm and said, See you later have a good life don’t get mugged, raped, murdered, etc. They had to hit the road. And she left on a cord wood drawn carriage guys, and they just threw them out into the world. And she spent her high school years raising a family. And this was, you know, in the 50s. And she worked for a woman who was a nurse, the one that woman went to work as a nurse, she took care of the kids at school, though. Also being from a non educated background, I guess she had a great reverence for doctors, though. That’s probably where the early influence came to talk to me about it a lot. And then she herself when she married my dad was first a flight attendant and then married my dad, he went back to school. 

So I spent my whole childhood, you know, looking at the typewriter in the middle of the dining room where she was writing papers and whatnot. And she got her undergraduate degree with us. Well, raising us then got her Rn degree and then I got her master’s in social work. So I think that’s probably where the influence was the most. My brother co sort of followed my dad, which was more in the private equity stock trading kind of world. Finance. Yeah, yeah, I still think there’s no question that’s, that’s where the influence came. And then when I was in high school, I was taking you know, AP Biology and for my project, I ordered through a medical supply company and embalmed a dog. And I decided to have a dog in my basement for six months. That sounds a little creepy, but you know, that curiosity, I enjoyed that and I was very interested in a bunch of anatomy books out and was densifying and labeling all the different structures. So, but then for my journey, I went to undergraduate at SMU in Dallas. There just because I wanted to try a different part of the country for four years and I was pre med and being a neurosurgeon. You know, all these kids that I interview now or sort of Harvard, Columbia perfect grade scores. I wasn’t, I sort of already was on my way through the first two years trying to play catch up. last year really is all I had to catch up. So I graduated with a 3.1 GPA. You wouldn’t even get a you know, look, the look by the worst residency in the country for internal medicine right now. 3.1. So, being older I guess has its advantage.

Now I love to tell my kids when they get discouraged I mean, I applied to 18 medical schools. I got rejected at 16 and waited listed at two and I was called in July to let me know that you knew they had an open spot and did not help that my dad actually was good buddies with the guy on the board. So you know, little connections help. Once I got in and it was up to me, and then I graduated the top of my class at Rush medical school and blew by everybody else, because I was like, Alright, you’re not going to screw this up from the beginning, this time, you’re going to really buckle down. And then I went to do what I wanted to go into either orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery. I was living in Chicago. I couldn’t decide which way to go, though. In the old days, you got all your applications by paper and giant packets and I lived on the 40th floor of an apartment and one day I just impulsively took all the orthopedic applications and threw him down the garbage chute and went to neurosurgery rock. And then I went to Barry to make that decision. Now, remember, No, honestly, it was really impulsive. I thought I wanted to do all spine surgery and they both did spine. They think ultimately, I concluded that. That uh, the, if I was going to do spine surgery, neurosurgery, neurosurgery, residents participate in spine surgery throughout the residency, right? orthopedics you only spend six months on spine service, and then you have to do a one year fellowship going to cure is only getting a year and a half of spine surgery. We’re in neuro, you’re exclusive for seven years. So I’m going on too long here and we know it’s good. Don’t worry about it. So then, oh, so that then I had a friend in medical school who said, Hey, you should go look in Phoenix at the Barrow. And you know, most geeked out neurosurgery applicants know all about the Barrow. embarrassingly, I did. And he said, I have a good friend. He’s at the Barrow, it’s the best place in the country. There’s a world famous guy there named Robert Spetzler. No, okay, well check it out. So I wrote to him. And then in my, I guess the beginning of my fourth year of medical school, I did what’s called a rotation where you fly there, spend a full month you sleep in the dorms, you show up for rounds every day at 5am. You stay late. And there again, there were all these burdens, Stanford and Yale people and I’m the guy from Rush, which is a great, great university, but not, you know, it doesn’t get the immediate recognition or respect an Ivy League would. And so I’m thinking how do I distinguish myself amongst these people who academically seem to be superior on the resumes and they would all go to the operating room all day and watch Robert Spetzler, and Brian, engage them in a conversation before after surgery and marvel at his surgical skill. And what I saw was the junior residents for the second year residents, you know, suffering under the horrible hours of 120 hours a week. No, you come in on Monday morning at 4:30am. You don’t go home till Tuesday night with no sleep at 8pm. There were no work restrictions the way they are now. And one of the things that was very onerous for them was rounding, there was no such thing as a nurse practitioner, they would get stuck in the operating room all day afternoon, no sleep helping the slowest surgeon in the group. And at 7pm. They’d have to come out after being awake. But there’s doors that can go right like 40 notes up on the floor. So rather than go to the operating room and stick up to Dr. Spencer, I would go to the floors and write all the notes. So they come out and they’re thinking, oh my god, I do more hours of work, then I can go home and sleep than 36 hours ago write notes. And I told him I say no, your notes are all written. So it’s sort of a backdoor I guess it’s up to them in a way but showed him that I was willing to do the hard work, though, that that got them on my side. And in those days it was built to some degree, the residents had a pretty good influence on sponsors and they would go to them and say this guy’s a grunt. He’s a hard worker. He’s great. He’s respectful. He’s got our back. And that was how I fortuitously masked at the Barrow, it wasn’t because of my academic record. And even the people back at Rush are going to reply to Barrow. You’ll never get in, you know, there’s the great Robert Spetzler there, you’ve got to have a PhD and rez dB, you know, size of a textbook and I had one paper. So somehow by God’s grace, I got matched there. 

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