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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:

  • Six months in OHNS
  • Six months in various rotations including Pediatric Surgery, Anesthesiology, Trauma and SICU

The numbers: In 2019, 328 positions were offered among 110 programs in the country of which all positions filled.

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.

What Program Directors look for:  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 to prepare to match in OHNS?

    1. Schedule a time to meet and discuss/ask questions with, our career goal advisor, Rupali Shah, MD about anything regarding OHNS that you have. Please contact Ellen Doutt for an appointment, 919-966-3343.
    2. Get involved with the ENT Interest Group for various activities including shadowing opportunities to learn about our field.
    3. Sign up for OHNS clinical courses offered at UNC within your third and fourth years.
    4. Inquire about research opportunities within the department.

Helpful Resources


Robert A. Buckmire Scholarship for 4th Year Medical Student Away Rotators

The UNC Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery is proud to offer the Robert A. Buckmire scholarship opportunity for up to two 4th year medical students from an outside institution who are seeking a 1 month acting internship in our department. The $1500 scholarship is designed to allow students to come to UNC who would otherwise be unable to do so. We strongly encourage all potential candidates to apply. Interested applicant should contact Ellen Doutt at: indicating their interest in the scholarship, as well as a personal statement, in collaboration with their VSLO application. Applications will be accepted through May 1st, 2024. Winners will be notified via email.