Treatment for Your Head and Neck, Ear, Nose and Throat

If your child has chronic ear or sinus infections, your primary care physician may refer you to an otolaryngologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the ear, nose and throat.

Job Description

Also known as an “ENT” doctor (for ear, nose and throat), an otolaryngologist cares for patients with diseases or disorders of the respiratory system and the upper alimentary system, which includes the mouth, esophagus and pharynx. An ENT is a specialist in head and neck surgery and may perform plastic or reconstructive surgery to repair injuries or correct deformities that affect a patient’s ability to hear, breathe, swallow or digest. ENTs also provide diagnosis and treatment of allergies. In large hospitals and medical centers, otolaryngologists may limit their practice to a specialty such as endocrine surgery or cochlear implants; some may limit their practice to the treatment of pediatric patients.

Education Requirements

Otolaryngology is a specialty that requires at least five years of postgraduate training beyond the completion of a medical degree. Training includes a minimum of nine months of training in basic surgical science and 51 months of education and training in the specialty. Otolaryngology residents work with medical school faculty and surgical teams, assuming increased responsibility as they progress through the training period. Medical residents are typically paid $50,000 to $69,000 per year, depending on geographic location and the area’s cost of living.

Certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology is not required for practice, but it is a credential valued by patients and may be a requirement for employment by some hospitals or medical schools. Otolaryngologists can also earn subspecialty certifications in neurotology (neurological disorders of the ear) and sleep medicine.

Work Environment

Otolaryngologists see patients in clinics and in their offices. They perform surgeries in hospitals and, depending on the nature of their practice, may be on call nights and weekends. Some otolaryngologists teach in medical schools and supervise surgical residents. Most otolaryngologists report a high level of job satisfaction.

The salary range for otolaryngologists is $301,985 to $414,091, although it varies depending on your geographic location, years of experience and type of specialty practice. Some salary averages include:

  • Less than one year of experience: $316,478–$347,880
  • 5–6 years of experience: $320,504–$351,906
  • 10–14 years of experience: $335,802–$366,348
  • 20+ years of experience: $350,295–$381,973

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all physicians, including specialists like otolaryngologists, are expected to increase over the next decade. The growing population and advances in medical research that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases will contribute to the trend.

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