Currently the UK Royal Colleges offer training in ten different surgical specialties – including otorhinolaryngology / head and neck surgery.
Otolaryngologists deal with diagnosing, evaluating and managing diseases involving the head and neck, with key areas of concern being the senses, inflammatory conditions affecting the inlet areas and trauma. Other areas of interest include speech and language, the mechanism of swallowing, head and neck cancers and facial plastic and reconstructive work.
There are nearly 1500 ENT surgeons employed by the National Health Service, making it one of the largest surgical specialties in the UK. However, together with the broad range of topics covered by ENT, the nature of the specialty itself means large numbers of their patients are treated not solely by ENT personnel, but also by many other healthcare professionals. As such, one could look at the speciality as being part of a large multidisciplinary team, whereby ENT surgeons also work alongside various different medical specialties, from neurology to paediatrics, to name but a few. This points to the fact that ENT is truly a wide-ranging field, which entails caring for a variety of different patients in a truly holistic manner.
Furthermore, unlike most other surgical specialists, ENT doctors also work as physicians, running out-patient clinics and managing many conditions medically rather than operatively. This is evidenced by the fact that only around 15% of patients seen by ENT doctors undergo operations. Despite this, surgeons specialising in ENT may subsequently choose to sub-specialize, in areas such as otology, rhinology, laryngology, head and neck surgery, facial plastics, skull base surgery or neurotology, thyroid and parathyroid surgery and paediatrics.
It is therefore clear to see that there are a number of wide-ranging opportunities within ENT and, in addition to this, there are also a growing number of developments within the specialty itself.
One such recent development is in the field of cochlear / brain stem implants, where electrodes are placed in the inner ear to stimulate auditory nerves and allow deaf patients to hear for the first time. With further research, it is hoped that these implants can become more sophisticated, and have improved fidelity. This is just one of many exciting developments in the ENT specialty.
Such features, together with its wide-ranging remit and inherently rewarding nature, make ORL-HNS a rewarding career choice for medical students and junior doctors.
Harking to this, we set up our society last year in the belief that the ENT specialty as a whole lacks widespread support and communication at a student and junior trainee level. According to 2013 statistics, ENT surgeons account for approximately 3% of all surgeons in the United Kingdom. Moreover, statistically nearly 30% of all doctors are in general practice, for whom ENT-related conditions and diseases comprise a large quantity (up to 40%) of their work. With the proportion of doctors in general practice projected to rise to over 50% in the near future, it is clear to see that a knowledge of ENT would benefit not only those who choose to specialise in it, but also the considerable number of medical students and junior doctors who subsequently go on to a career in general practice. For the most part, in British Undergraduate Medical Universities, ENT training is limited to a dedicated 5-week rotation during the entire five years of medical training! Currently, Student and Foundation Doctors in Otolaryngology (SFO) and The North of England Otolaryngology Society are the only prominent bodies that are open to those at a medical student level.
Therefore, we at UGENTS aim to act as an interface between medical students with an interest in ENT or its related specialties and those working in the field, as well as provide sign-posting, information, career guidance and training opportunities for our members through arranged events and interactive sessions. To achieve this, we will connect those at all levels in the field of ENT. Moreover, we are the representative body (FMO) for all Glasgow students at the European Medical Students’ Association, and therefore we actively encourage cooperation with all of our overseas European family. Through UGENTS, we hope to provide our members with exciting medical opportunities abroad, including conferences and placements, and we will cooperate with EMSA’s policies, as well as host their members in our events in Scotland and the United Kingdom. Thank You.