Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists


Exploring this Job

To obtain general experience in the health care industry, try to land a part-time job or volunteer at a hospital or office of a physician (ideally one who specializes in otolaryngology). Talk with ENT specialists about their careers. Ask them for advice on succeeding in medical school and typical employment settings for ENT specialists. Visit the Web sites of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) and the American Medical Association to learn more about education and careers in the field.

The AAO-HNS offers a Student Observership Program in which high school and undergraduate students learn about the specialty and receive first-hand experience on what it is like to be an otolaryngologist. Visit https://www.entnet.org/content/high-school-and-undergraduate-student-programs for more information. 

The Job

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists deal with problems as varied as adenoid infections, allergies, earaches, earwax buildup, hay fever, snoring, and many far more serious conditions or diseases such as throat, ear, mouth, thyroid, voice box, face, and neck cancer. ENT specialists typically focus on one or more of the following specialty areas: pediatric otolaryngology; otology/neurotology (ears, balance, and tinnitus); allergy; facial plastic and reconstructive surgery; head and neck; laryngology (throat); and rhinology (nose). 

The ENT specialist usually sees patients in a clinic or office setting to evaluate symptoms that affect their ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. Otolaryngologists work closely with other physicians, sometimes referring patients to other specialists. Frequently they work with other medical specialties to solve single or multiple medical issues or to perform extensive surgery. For instance, some ENT specialists may be trained to perform reconstructive surgery using skin flaps or grafts to close a hole created by the removal of a tumor. Other surgical procedures, such as a cochlear implant, may help a patient regain some hearing and be able to communicate better.

In addition to working as practicing physicians, ENT specialists also teach otolaryngology at colleges and universities.