Whenever a patient talks about 'going to the doctor's office', it is likely a visit with an ENT Specialist. Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, also known as otolaryngologists are among the most popular doctors in the United States. In addition to treating issues affecting the ears, nose and throat, ENT Specialists are also responsible for related problems with the head and neck. And since the common cold and flu seem to have no cure, the need for qualified ENT Specialists will continue to ensure sustainability for this profession.
What is an ENT Specialist?
ENT Specialists are medical doctors that treat physical conditions in four major categories – the ears, nose, throat and head/neck.
ENT Specialists may also conduct medical research, teach educational courses or author journal articles. ENT Specialists must be skilled in biological sciences as well as interpersonal communication, as in the long term, these will help enable them to properly treat and perform surgery for a plethora of issues.
Understanding the Educational Path to Become an ENT Specialist
A four-year medical degree, followed by a five-year ENT residency program is the primary educational requirements for a profession as a board-certified ENT Specialist. However, the educational path begins by receiving a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university. For future, ENT specialists building foundational science and interaction skills are often the focus of core educational course study while in college.
Educational Path of an ENT Specialist
Earn a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor’s degree is the first higher-education step toward becoming an ENT Specialist. Although candidates complete a broad range of undergraduate majors, students should complete the courses the American Association of Medical Colleges found most medical schools require as prerequisites: biology, physics, and chemistry, along with written and oral communication course study.
During their undergraduate degree, students wanting to gain an edge in the competitive medical school application pool would benefit from taking career and advanced education oriented steps like joining pre-medical organizations, completing community service, shadowing physicians and studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Before graduating, a candidate should apply to medical school. Medical school is a four-year process, leading to an advanced degree in the medical field, either a M.D. or D.O.
Complete a medical school program
During medical school, future ENT Specialists spend their first year primarily in the classroom absorbing knowledge in areas like anatomy, histology, pathology, biochemistry, psychology, ethics and preparing for Objective Structured Clinical Exams. The second year, while still in the classroom, is more clinically focused. The third and fourth year medical students will transition into clinical rotations and gain exposure to a wide range of potential specializations.
Complete a Residency
In addition to the successful completion of medical school, graduates intending to become board-certified ENT specialists must complete a five years residency, where they receive both training and experience in specific issues of the ears, nose and throat, research, oncology, anesthesiology, surgery, pediatrics, leadership/management and clinical evaluation.
Secure a license. Licensing requirements vary by state, and doctors must complete a state examination in each state they plan to practice medicine. Many medical professionals consider it is wise and strategic to complete one’s residency in the state of intended practice. Otherwise, ENT specialists will need to learn a different set of regulations before taking the test.
Become board certified. In order to become board certified in Otolaryngology, medical doctors must meet all of the following requirements:
Specialize and Earn a Sub Specialty
Officially, the American Board of Otolaryngology only requires/offers exams and certification for two sub specialties; Neurology and Sleep Medicine. However, many ENT specialists complete a year or two or additional training in order to “specialize” in pediatrics, allergy, plastic and reconstructive surgery, balance, tumors of the head and neck, voice and swallowing and rhinology.
Understanding the Career Path of a ENT Specialist
According to Gap Medics, ENT Specialist work private practice, hospitals or clinics. However, the majority of ENT Specialists who do not spend most of their time performing surgeries work in private practice.
Opportunities for ENT Specialists are vast. Physicians interested in working with children can become Pediatric ENT Specialists. They can also work in one of the other ENT specialties such as plastic and reconstructive surgery or helping those with unique or severe allergies.
Professional organizations can be used as a means for networking, community service, think tanks, research, continued education and specialized learning. ENT Specialists should consider joining the American Academy of Otolaryngology
Salary.com found the median salary for a U.S. ENT Specialist is $336,844.
ENT Specialists are extremely valuable in American culture. In fact, according to ENT Associates, more than 50 percent of all doctor visits are for ENT problems. Recent changes in medical coverage, including the Affordable Care Act, have stimulated a huge increase in insurance covered individuals who up until recently – couldn't afford to visit ENT Specialists. Considering the overall physician demand is expected to grow at least 18 percent between 2012 and 2022, the need for ENT Specialists should be even greater.