Otolaryngology is the medical specialty that diagnoses diseases and illnesses impacting the head and neck. Included are issues impacting the ears, nose, and throat. Common cases seen by otolaryngologists include ear infections, tinnitus, asthma, deviated septums, dizziness, tonsilitis, allergies, nasal congestion, and sore throats, among other things. It is the oldest medical specialty still practiced in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Otolaryngologist or ENT (ears, nose, and throat) doctor are titles for those practicing this specialty.
Aspiring otolaryngologists must complete medical school followed by five years in residency. This time can be broken down into three stages:
3 years in otolaryngology + 1 year in general surgery + 1 year of general training
According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, 1,651 otolaryngology residency seats were filled in 2019. International medical graduates filled 32 of these spots. The significance of such a small number is evidence of the competition in this medical specialty.
Within the medical specialty of otolaryngology, there are several subspecialties: facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, neurotology, laryngology, pediatric otolaryngology, and rhinology. The subspecialties of neurotology and pediatric otolaryngology have their own residency programs whereas the other specialties require individuals to complete a fellowship following a general otolaryngology residency.
As of 2017, there were 12,609 otolaryngologists practicing in the United States. A little less than half of these individuals practiced in one of the subspecialties outlined above. In 2018, otolaryngologists earned an average salary of $383,000. This figure is steadily lowering with otolaryngologists’ average pay decreasing by 4 percent since 2017. Despite this drop in pay, foreign-trained individuals in this specialty gained more than their U.S.-trained counterparts. Foreign-trained otolaryngologists earned an average salary of $456,000 while those trained in the U.S. earned just $380,000.