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.

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.

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.

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

    • join your university surgical society
    • join ENT UK as a student member (SFO UK – Student and Foundation Doctors in Otolaryngolgology)
    • attend conferences on surgery for medical students – this will give you an opportunity to network and meet your future colleagues (eg SFO Annual Conference)
    • undertake a special study module or project in surgery/ENT surgery and choose an elective in surgery/ENT surgery
    • find out if you can participate in an audit or research project in ENT
    • become an Affiliate of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
    • make contact with ENT surgeons in your hospital - offer to help with research projects or audit
    • attend courses such as those offered by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh – topics include surgical skills, interview skills for core surgical training and career-planning
    • ensure your e-portfolio has plenty of surgery evidence (ideally but not necessarily ENT surgery) and that this is kept properly up-to-date
    • join ENT UK as a trainee member, (SFO UK – Student and Foundation Doctors in Otolaryngolgology)
    • try to gain teaching and management experience
    • study for the examinations for the membership of your chosen Royal College
    • continue to develop your practical and academic expertise.
    • undertake a research and audit project
    • try to get some of your work published and present at national and international meetings
    • join or start a Journal Club (a group who meet to critically evaluate academic research)
    • join ENT UK as a trainee member,(SFO UK – Student and Foundation Doctors in Otolaryngolgology)
    • teach junior colleagues
    • take on any management opportunities you are offered
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