The public calls otolaryngologists ear, nose and throat doctors. But that
term is too general. They diagnose and treat many of the same disorders general
Those include inner-ear infections, allergies, hay fever, migraines and
tonsillitis. But otolaryngologists are far more specialized than general physicians.
They are highly trained surgeons who treat a wide range of disorders. They
use a combination of medication, radiotherapy and, of course, surgery.
Hearing loss, dizziness (vertigo), disorders of smell or taste, thyroid
disorders, and cancers of the neck and mouth are just some of the conditions
They also perform plastic surgery of the face, head and neck. And if you
want somebody to stop snoring, just take that person to an otolaryngologist.
They'll know what to do.
An aging population and rising demand for special medical care will create
a substantial number of jobs for specialists such as otolaryngologists, says
a report from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Cultural trends will also benefit otolaryngology. "There is increasing
demand for plastic surgery," says George Roman. He is director of practice
management with the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.
Working hours for otolaryngologists vary. They have to be on call if they
work in a hospital, and they may have to perform emergency surgery. "But if
you are on call, you don't have to be in the operating room all night long,"
says Dr. Julian Nedzelski.
Otolaryngologists have great flexibility if they run their own practice.
"It's one of the few surgical professions where you can balance a family and
workload," says Johnna MacCormick. She is an assistant professor of otolaryngology.
"Yet it is interesting, and you can make it what you want."
You must have superb hand-eye coordination and eyesight if you want to
go into otolaryngology. This is true for any surgical profession, but even
more so for otolaryngologists because they operate on some of the most delicate
parts of the human anatomy. Many procedures require powerful microscopes.
Endurance and stamina are other key physical requirements. Otolaryngology
is also open to people with some physical disabilities. "Can you do this job
wheelchair-bound? Yes!" says MacCormick. You can also be an otolaryngologist
if your hearing is impaired.
Otolaryngologists must have superb communication skills. More importantly,
they must be able to relate to different groups of people, from children to