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) doctors are titles for those practicing this specialty.
Aspiring otolaryngologists must complete medical school followed by five years of 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 2022 National Residency Match data, all 316 otolaryngology residency seats were filled in 2022. However, all but four of these seats were filled by seniors and graduates of MD and DO schools.
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 2019, there were 9,777 otolaryngologists practicing in the United States. According to the AAMC, nearly 89 percent of these physicians were MDs and only 5.8 percent are IMGs. Despite the gap between IMGs and U.S. medical school graduates within the specialty, AAMC also shows that nearly half of all Otolaryngologists are above the age of 55. This suggests a retirement-caused physician shortage looms for the specialty and means that future growth for IMGs to break into the specialty may not be far away.
According to 2023 data collected on Salary.com, otolaryngologists practicing in the United States earn an average yearly salary of $399,000.