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Summary of occupation

​An otorhinolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, is a surgeon trained in the treatment of disorders and conditions of the ears, nose, throat and neck.

Otorhinolaryngologists perform tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies, endoscopies, cochlear implantation, and sino-nasal tract surgery. They use surgery to treat facial trauma, congenital disorders, and tumours.

ANZSCO description: Performs surgery to correct diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, Head and Neck Surgeon
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An otorhinolaryngologist needs:

  • to be able to work under pressure and have the stamina to work long hours
  • good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity
  • attention to detail
  • to maintain concentration for long periods
  • to empathise and be compassionate towards others
  • excellent communication skills to liaise with other physicians and provide clear information to patients
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Working conditions

Otorhinolaryngologists usually consult patients in their private consulting rooms and operate in private and public hospitals. They may also supervise and teach medical students and registrars.

They operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing. They also work closely with a range of other medical professionals such as anaesthetists, operating theatre technicians and surgical nurses.

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Salary details

​On average, ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgical specialists can expect to earn between $2 885 and $7 692 per week ($150 000 and $400 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgical specialist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Otorhinolaryngologists use a range of specialised surgical instruments when operating on patients including retractors, forceps, snares, syringes and hooks. They must also wear sterile surgical attire while operating.

Outside of the operating theatre, otorhinolaryngologists use technologies such as X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, and Computed Tomography (CT) scans to assist in planning appropriate courses of action and to follow up after surgery.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become an otorhinolaryngologist, you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in otorhinolaryngology.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in otorhinolaryngology, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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