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Head and Neck Oncology Education and Career Information

Ear, nose and throat oncologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Head and neck oncology is practiced by physicians with an ear, nose and throat specialty that have also completed further training and education in head and neck oncology. The formal education required to practice this type of medicine includes pre-med undergraduate work, medical school, residency, and a head and neck fellowship.

Essential Information

Head and neck oncology is practiced by physicians called otolaryngologists, who are trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the head and neck, ears, nose and throat. Also called ENTs because they treat the ear, nose and throat areas, doctors who complete otolaryngology training can add a head and neck oncology fellowship to their education.

Required Education An undergraduate degree, an M.D. and a residency with a specialization in otolaryngology surgery, followed by a surgical oncology fellowship
Other Requirements State licensure is required; voluntary certification is available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% (for physicians and surgeons, all other)*
Mean Annual Salary (May 2015) $197,700 (for physicians and surgeons, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education for an ENT Oncologist

The training for an ENT specializing in oncology might take up to 15 years of college, medical school, internships, residencies and fellowships. The training begins with a bachelor's degree in a pre-medical program that focuses on such courses as chemistry, biology, zoology and anatomy.

The next level of ENT preparation is medical school or osteopathic college, which typically takes four years to complete. A Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) is awarded at the completion of this process. Successful completion of a multi-phase exam and approval of coursework are needed before a license is issued to practice as a physician.

After medical school, doctors complete residency training, which includes one year of general surgery and four years specializing in otolaryngology surgery. The residency typically consists of combined lecture, research and clinical work. Upon completion of this step, a doctor might opt to take the American Board of Otolaryngology exam to gain voluntary certification as an otolaryngologist.

A fellowship specializing in surgical oncology is the last step in the training process. Fellowships can range from 1-3 years in length. During this time, the physician concentrates on the specific area of oncology related to head and neck surgery. Training generally covers clinical and research work with an established ENT oncologist. Fellowship appointments are highly competitive, and many schools accept just 3-5 applicants a year into their programs.

Additional coursework, training and continuing education are required to maintain licensure. It's not uncommon for ENTs to continue taking fellowships throughout their careers.

Careers Information

Most ENTs go into practice by themselves or with another group of physicians. Some might work as adjunct instructors at a university medical center.

According to Salary.com, otolaryngologists earned a median annual salary of $344,086 as of August 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of physicians and surgeons (all other) would increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average.

Head and neck oncology is a specialty that an ear, nose and throat doctor can pursue. Head and neck oncology is practiced by doctors who are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of disorders and diseases of the head and neck. While working in this field has very long educational requirements, including medical school, residency, and further fellowship, the salary is high and job growth is faster than average in this field over the next ten years.


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