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Otolaryngology Specialty at a Glance

Students interested in a career in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) should take electives that will prepare them for a lifelong career in OHNS. Students are encouraged to speak with a career mentor early in Phase 2 for guidance in this highly competitive specialty.

Match Statistics 

Step 2 CK median score: 257
25th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 249.0
75th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 264.0
Median programs applied to: 77
Median research experiences: 6
Median abstracts, presentations or publications: 14

  • Why should a student choose otolaryngology?

    Otolaryngology (ENT) is a surgical subspecialty focusing on diseases of the head and neck. Students who enjoy surgery, are interested in the head and neck anatomy and enjoy nonoperative medical management for certain disease processes should consider otolaryngology. Residents learn broad surgical skills in the head and neck as well as a balance of medical management of disease processes that affect this region of the body (think sinus/nasal surgery and medical management for allergies).

  • Are there things students should be doing in Phase 1 (year 1 and 2) to prepare?

    Research and scholarly activity play a significant role in otolaryngology residency applications. Therefore, early involvement in research projects leading to publications, posters and presentations is highly recommended. The IMPRS program offered by IU School of Medicine provides an excellent opportunity for students to connect with otolaryngology faculty research mentors and initiate projects between their MS1 and MS2 years. Shadowing experiences with affiliate faculty at various centers, as well as on the Indianapolis campus, are also encouraged to help students confirm their interest in pursuing ENT residency.

  • What electives are recommended for students pursuing otolaryngology?

    You are encouraged to take various electives, including an away one in otolaryngology. Radiology, oral surgery, trauma surgery, ophthalmology, neurology and anesthesia are all excellent electives to prepare students for otolaryngology residency.

  • What sub-Is are recommended for students pursuing otolaryngology?

    Students should aim to have their Indianapolis campus sub-I in the beginning of their fouth year, followed by one to two sub-I rotations at away institutions following their on-campus rotation.

  • Is an away rotation recommended in otolaryngology?

    Yes, at least one away rotation is recommended for this specialty.

  • How important is research? Does it have to be specialty specific?

    Research is particularly important, with increasing focus on this area of residency applications. Scholarly activity in any field is appreciated, however, demonstrating scholarly activity in otolaryngology is preferable if possible.

  • How long is otolaryngology residency training?

    Residency training for this specialty is five years total, with the intern year integrated into these five years resulting in only one match.

  • Are there any specialty-specific recommendations regarding letters of recommendation?

    Developing consistent relationships with faculty early is helpful for them to be able to write strong letters of recommendation. Meeting early in the process (even in MS1 and MS2 years), being involved in research projects with faculty within the department and intermittent meetings with the department chair and residency program director are encouraged.

  • What are some useful resources for students considering otolaryngology?
  • How does career mentoring at the IU School of Medicine work in this specialty?

    Most students reach out through the IU School of Medicine career mentoring office staffed by Debra Rusk, MD, via an email expressing interest in otolaryngology. Students may already have a research project or familiarity with a faculty member, and in these cases, may approach the faculty mentor individually for a formal mentorship relationship. Should the student not have an existing relationship with faculty members, they can email Dr. Rusk to request a mentorship pairing.