Careers in Otolaryngology - HNS

Guidelines for a Career in Otolaryngology/HNS

Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery is an exciting, multi-faceted field that involves both surgical and medical management of patients with disorders of the head and neck. If you are interested in pursuing a career in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, please contact one of our faculty to discuss your options. In addition, we would like to offer some ideas and guidelines for medical students interested in pursuing this specialty.


While no specific subinternship is required, experience in Otolaryngology, anesthesiology, radiology and the intensive care unit is recommended. In-depth knowledge of the above is required to be successful in Otolaryngology. Related fields in which experience can be very helpful to the Otolaryngologist include neurosurgery, ophthalmology and dermatology.

Check out diversity scholarship opportunities for visiting medical students here.

Application Timeline

Most decisions regarding the application to Otolaryngology Residency programs must be made early in your medical school training. With that said, it’s not unusual for an applicant to decide later to pursue this career track and it is certainly not a requirement to select Otolaryngology in the earliest years of training. The residency match for Otolaryngology now takes place in March along with the other specialties, so the application (including letters of recommendation), must be completed by late summer of the fourth year. Many programs still interview in the late fall and early winter. The more typical options used by students are as follows:

  • Students rotate on the Otolaryngology service in their third year, or early in their fourth year. They should identify a faculty mentor who can help them navigate the application process and advise them on the appropriateness and “fit” of individual residency programs.
  • If there is a specific program you are interested in, an early “away rotation” at that program prior to October/ November of your fourth year will allow you to learn more about the program and improve your chances of matching at that particular institution.

Research Experience

Research experience is extremely helpful when applying for Otolaryngology residency. Research experience can be demonstrated in several ways:

  • Summer research elective 
  • Collaboration on a clinical research project
  • Demonstration of an ongoing focus in research earlier in training, which may include undergraduate research, graduate-level research, post- or pre-doctoral research, or other medical school experiences.


Do take time to round out your medical education. Be sure to consider as much breadth as possible when looking at your medical education, as a whole. The Department of Otolaryngology offers numerous opportunities to get to know our specialty, faculty and residents. Most importantly, have fun and learn as much as possible.

Consider attending the Otolaryngology Medical Student Interest Group (OMSIG) meetings and please seek the guidance of as many house officers and faculty as possible. Several faculty members serve as career advisors and we are all willing to help you with your future career plans.


Most programs interview from early November until early February, with the majority occurring in December/ January. Most students apply to about 30 schools, and interview at 10-15 schools depending on the competitiveness of their application.

Medical Student education in the Department of Otolaryngology is coordinated by Dr. Mark K. Wax. if you are interested in learning more about Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, consider one of our many elective opportunities.