Training and development (otorhinolaryngology)

This page provides useful information on the training and development for this specialty and also has tips for people at all stages of their career including medical school.

After completing foundation training doctors will then need to undertake core surgical (CT 1&2) and specialty training (ST3-8) in ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery.

Download full image of the otorhinolaryngology training pathway

Core Surgical Training

Core surgical training lasts two years and provides training in a hospital in a range of surgical specialties. During the first two years of your training you must take the examination to give you membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS (ENT)) or equivalent.

There are usually some ENT themed core surgical training programmes although this can vary from year to year. There are always some programmes that contain placements particularly useful to ENT. You would need a minimum period of 6 months ENT experience to be able to sit/pass the MRCS ENT examination.

Following successful completion of your core surgical training it is necessary to apply competitively for the next phase of your training, specialty ENT surgery training (ST3).

You will need at least six months’ experience in ENT surgery during your core surgical training if you wish to progress to specialist ENT surgery training. It is desirable to have 12 months’ experience in Otorhinolaryngology with 6 months’ experience in two specialties complementary to otolaryngology. Completion of an elective in this specialty is an advantage as is other related experience. Some candidates obtain relevant experience by working as a Locum Appointed for Training (LAT) or Locum Appointed for Service (LAS) after their core training and before applying for ST3.

Participation in national and international meetings relevant to otolaryngology will also enhance your application.

ST3 Specialty ENT Surgery Training

Specialty ENT surgery training (ST3) takes six years, although this can vary according to individual circumstances. During this time you will be employed as a specialty registrar (StR). At the end of this training you can then apply for consultant posts. However, before you can do this you must pass the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination (FRCS). Once you have passed this you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) and you will be eligible to be on the GMC Specialist Register.

Completion of other training courses such as Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Basic Surgical Skills and Care of the Critically Ill Surgical Patient (CCrISP) will also greatly enhance your application for ST3 training.

Selection panels also look for evidence of academic and research achievements, such as degrees, prizes, awards, distinctions, publications and presentations. An understanding of research, audit and teaching is also important.  Entry is highly competitive so you will need achievements that are relevant to ENT Surgery. Completion of an elective in ENT surgery will demonstrate your commitment to the selection panel.

The GMC provides information on the curriculum for ENT surgery training.

Detailed entry requirements and all essential and desirable criteria are listed in the Person Specification 2017 for Otorhinolaryngology ST3.

All 2017 person specifications can be found on the NHS specialty training website. Please note that these documents are updated every year in the autumn before the recruitment round opens.

This information is correct at the time of writing. Full and accurate details of training pathways are available from medical royal colleges, local education and training boards (LETBs) or the GMC.

Getting in tips

It is important to develop your practical skills and interest in surgery as early as you can. This will also give you valuable experience to add to your CV.

The BMJ Careers website has a useful article ‘How to succeed in ST3 general surgery recruitment’ which although aimed at general surgery has lots of tips and advice for all ST3 surgery applicants.

Here are some suggestions for people at different stages of their career:

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