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ENT Partners of Texas Blog

ENT Partners of Texas Blog

ENT Goes By Another Name

Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) is officially known by its Latin name otolaryngology. This is pronounced “oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee”. An alternative pronunciation of otolaryngology is “ear/nose/and/throat”.
Otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. An otolaryngologist from Kansas in 1896 called the initial meeting that in 1903 became the American Academy of  Ophthalmology  Oto-Laryngology. (At this time, the scope of practice included the care of the eye – ophthalmology.) Committees were formed to improve graduate education of its members and the American Board of Ophthalmology was formed in 1913 and the American Board of Otolaryngology in 1924. Now, if a physician wished to practice this type of medicine, he had to pass tests these boards provided, and become “board certified”. In 1978, after years of preparatory discussions, the specialty split into The American Academy ofOtolaryngology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. (Occasionally, an older patient will incorrectly still refer to me as an “eye, ear, nose and throat” doctor). In 1980, the Academy changed its name to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
One of the most appealing aspects of being an ENT surgeon is the privilege of being involved in the entire medical journey of our patients. We meet them. We diagnose them. We treat them medically if appropriate. The majority of cases are handled in this manner and hopefully, we are successful. Sometimes, the condition does not call for medical therapy or perhaps medical therapy has been ineffective. Then, we operate.
You see, many people do not understand that when you visit an ENT, you are seeing a surgeon. Like every other surgical specialty (orthopedic, neuro-, urology, etc.), after four years of college and four years of medical school, ENT’s  completed a general surgical internship in which we learned how to care for a wide variety of surgical ailments. We had our turn at appendectomies, removal of gallbladders, amputations, care of burn victims, repair of hernias, etc. These surgical internships usually last for one year. This was the case for my business partner Frank Theilen M.D., who completed his general surgery internship in Galveston, Texas. Mine, however, was for two years, spent in UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas.
After one’s internship, the ENT surgeon spends four years learning his craft concentrating solely on medical and surgical treatment of all of the medical conditions affecting the head and neck minus the eyes, brain, and certain problems of the cervical spine. After successfully completing one’s residency, one takes the board exam in Chicago and awaits the results. If you pass, you can start to work as a board certified  ENT OR choose to study one to three additional years in one of the specialty’s fellowships such as facial plastics, ear, voice, allergy, pediatric ENT, sleep apnea, oncology / head and neck surgery, or rhinology / sinus.
So, just a short 9-12 years after college, you too can call yourself an ENT.
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