What is OHNS?

Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. Now considered surgical specialists, Otolaryngologists are physicians trained in both the medical and surgical management of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. Otolaryngologists usually spend equivalent amounts of time in the operating room and the clinic, yet have the unique opportunity to tailor their practices more heavily towards one or the other if desired.

What are some areas of subspecialization in OHNS?

  • Head and Neck: cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the head and neck, including the larynx, oral cavity, cervical lymph nodes, thyroid and salivary glands
  • Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: cosmetic, functional, and reconstructive surgical treatment of abnormalities of the face and neck, from free tissue transfer (ie-taking large pieces of tissue from one place of the body to the face or neck and reconnecting blood vessels and/or nerves for reconstruction) to cosmetic enhancements to face lifts
  • Skull base Surgery: focuses on endoscopic and open treatment of lesions located in proximity to the skull base, as well as pterygoid and infratemporal fossas
  • Otology/Neurotology: diseases of the ear, including trauma, cancer, and nerve pathway disorders, which affect hearing and balance
  • Pediatric Otolaryngology: diseases in children with ENT problems including birth defects in the head and neck, airway anomalies, OSA, ROM, recurrent tonsillitis
  • Rhinology/Sinus: disorders of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses, including medical and surgical therapy for sinusitis, tumors, and allergic disease
  • Laryngology: disorders of the larynx involving voice, breathing and swallowing
  • Allergy: treatment by medication, immunotherapy and/or avoidance of pollen, dust, mold, food, and other sensitivities that affect the ear, nose, and throat
  • Sleep: medical and surgical treatment of sleep disorders

What about the residency training?

The residency consists of 5 total years of training, with the first year consisting of:

  • Three months in OHNS
  • Two months in Pediatrics and Trauma
  • One month each in Burn, Neurosurgery, ER, MICU and Anesthesiology

The numbers: In 2013, 292 positions were offered among 107 programs in the country. There were over 420 applicants last year. According to 2011 Match outcomes, average USMLE Step I score for those who matched was 243 (yet 31 applicants matched with a score of <230), 4.6% of those who matched were AOA, and 90% self-reported as having abstracts, presentations or publications.

UNC’s OHNS Residency Program: consistently rated as one of the top programs in the country, with fellowship-trained attendings in every OHNS subspecialty, cutting edge surgical procedures, and highly productive research within the department. We also performed the most cochlear implantations in the US last year (3rd most in the world!)

What Program Directors look for: First and foremost, we are not just looking for candidates scoring 260+ on their boards! We are looking for well-rounded, hard-working, self-motivated, and bright individuals with good interpersonal skills who also put a personal emphasis on patient care, teamwork, and a desire to contribute to the advancement of our specialty.

What can you do in your 4th year to prepare to match in OHNS?

1. Contact anyone here at UNC’s department of OHNS to set up a time to meet and discuss/ask questions about anything regarding OHNS that you have.


  • Drs. Senior, Brown, Buckmire, Ebert: contact Kathy Bogie – 919-966-3344
  • Drs. Zanation, Rose, Weissler, Zdanski: contact Dawn Wilson – 919-966-8927
  • Drs. Pillsbury, Shockley, Jarchow, Hackman: contact Kathy Harris – 919-843-7091
  • Drs. Chikes, Clark, Kilpatrick, Thorp: contact Donna Woodard – 919-843-3628
  • Drs. Drake, Patel, Shah, Zevallos: contact Ellen Doutt – 919-966-3343

2. Sign up for OHNS elective here at UNC:

  • OTOL 450 Acting Internship in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (MSIV)
  • OTOL 453 Acting Internship in Pediatric Otolaryngology (MSIV)
  • SURS 450 Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (satisfies Critical Care pre-req) (MSIV)

*All are usually taken as 4 week electives, offered during all elective periods.

3. Involve yourself with departmental activities as much as you may have time for, inquire about possible research opportunities within the department, continually meet with career advisor(s) to plan for the residency match.