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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Why consider otolaryngology as a career choice?

    Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery is a regional medical and surgical subspecialty. We have no medical counterpart; therefore, we are responsible for the entire management of patients with head and neck problems.This allows you to have the best of a medical and surgical subspecialty. Most otolaryngologists divide their time equally between seeing patients in the office and performing surgery. You get to make the diagnosis, treat it medically or surgically, and then follow the patient. Furthermore, the specialty has no arbitrary age or sex limitations as we see patients from neonates to geriatrics and, obviously, both sexes.

    The field is much broader than you might imagine if you think only of Ear, Nose, and Throat. The specialty includes: head and neck oncology, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, otology/neurotology, rhinology/sinus, bronchoesophagology, pediatrics, speech and swallowing disorders, facial nerve disorders, balance problems, maxillofacial trauma, and taste and smell disorders. As you can see, there is something to interest everyone in this specialty.Obviously, none of our names really describes all that we do. The wide diversity is reflected in the fascinating anatomy of the head and neck, which keeps one constantly learning.

    Although no one can accurately predict the future of health care, otolaryngology is estimated to be one of the surgical subspecialties with the closest number of practitioners compared to need. The lifestyle of an otolaryngologist is manageable compared to all other surgical subspecialties and many other fields of medicine. The residency, while demanding, generally requires much less in-house call and results in fewer sleepless nights than a typical surgical residency. Private practitioners have few emergencies to bring them in at night and such rarely interrupt their office schedule. Schedules in otolaryngology practice generally allow you to balance personal and professional goals.

    How do I find out if I like otolaryngology?

    If you are a second-year medical student, you can request an elective rotation on Otolaryngology in your third year. If you are a third-year student and did not get to rotate on Otolaryngology during your third year or need more exposure to the specialty, you should do a one-month elective on the Otolaryngology service in your senior year. During that time, we will attempt to expose you to the entire spectrum of otolaryngologic care. We encourage you to do the rotation in the first few months of your senior year to allow time to make a considered decision about your specialty choice.

    What if I am thinking about an academic career?

    Most otolaryngology programs are entirely capable of turning out academicians and do so. We will counsel you about a few programs with a strong reputation for doing so. Overall, we think it is hard to make such a decision so early in your career. But, we will make sure you go to the right programs to keep all of your options open.

    Most private practitioners do not do a fellowship and are capable of doing most otolaryngologic surgery. Currently, most but not all, people going into academics do a fellowship in some subspecialty of Otolaryngology such as: Pediatrics, Otology/Neurotology, Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery, Laryngology, Rhinology, Sleep Medicine or Head and Neck Oncology. This could decrease as pressure increases to reduce subspecialization and financial support for extended training decreases.