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How do I Become an ENT Surgeon?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Otolaryngology, the surgical specialty dealing with ear, nose, and throat (ENT) abnormalities, is practiced by highly educated and trained professionals. Among other delicate procedures, ENT surgeons correct congenital defects, repair damaged eardrums, remove cancerous tumors, and relieve chronic sinusitis. A person who wants to become an ENT surgeon must be willing to complete four years of medical school, one year of general surgery residency training, and at least four years of ENT specialty training. By completing residency requirements and passing a national licensing exam, an individual can become an ENT surgeon at a general hospital or a specialty surgical center.

The first step to become an ENT surgeon is to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Most future surgeons major in biology or another science related to human health. As an undergraduate, a student has the opportunity to take lecture courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, and math. Lab classes in biology and chemistry are important to provide a student with a fundamental understanding of scientific research. In a student's third or fourth year, he or she can take a national medical college admissions test and send in applications to respected schools.

Many medical schools offer courses and entire programs designed to educate future ENT specialists. Once enrolled, a person who wants to become an ENT surgeon takes advanced classes in microbiology, organic chemistry, pharmacology, and disease pathology. He or she usually gets the chance to participate in laboratory research projects to discover new information about diseases of the head and neck. The last two years of medical school typically involve rotating internships at local hospitals and ongoing lab research.

A successful student can earn a doctor of medicine degree and begin applying for general surgery residencies. As a resident, an individual has the opportunity to work alongside established surgeons in many different specialties to gain important, hands-on experience. After one year, he or she can enter a residency program dedicated specifically to ENT procedures. Residents usually continue to attend lectures and conduct research throughout their training.

After completing at least five years of residency training, a professional can take a written licensing exam to officially become an ENT surgeon. Many doctors choose to continue their training in two- to three-year fellowships in more specialized areas of ENT care, such as laryngology, oncology, or pediatric surgery. Additional board certification is needed in many countries before fellows can start practicing independently in their specialties.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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