How do I Become an ENT Doctor?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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ENT doctors, also known as otolaryngologists, study and treat diseases that affect the head, neck, ears and throat. Some ENT doctors may focus on certain areas or subspecialties, such as cosmetic, allergy or cleft lip and palate. Others may specialize in oncology, inner ear disorders or reconstructive surgery. It can take up to 15 years of education to become an ENT doctor. Studies generally include a four-year undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, five years of specialized training and, in some specialized cases, a one- or two-year fellowship.

Those seeking to become an ENT doctor will first need to complete an undergraduate degree. Students generally pursue science or premedical courses and obtain a degree in a science-related field. After four years of undergraduate study, one may begin applying to medical schools.

In order to gain admission into medical school, a student typically needs sufficient scores on entrance exams, letters of recommendation from former professors and evidence of successful undergraduate studies. Medical school generally lasts four years and focuses on the fundamentals of practicing medicine. After medical school, those seeking to become an ENT doctor generally need to complete residency training.

ENT doctors typically complete four to seven years of residency training. Residency training may be extended for those who wish to work in a subspecialty field. Some subspecialties of otolaryngology include pediatric, reconstructive, allergy and rhinology. Once residency has been completed, ENT doctors normally need to pass a series of licensing examinations.


In the United States, all physicians must pass the US medical licensing examination in order to practice medicine. Additionally, otolaryngologists must pass an examination from the American Board of Otolaryngology. To practice medicine in another country, US physicians are typically able to take a licensing exam given by another country in order to become certified. The same is generally true for those doctors moving from other countries to the US.

The training requirements to become an ENT doctor are usually similar in many other countries. Medical training programs in India, Europe and China very closely resemble medical training in the US. In most countries the total time required to completely finish education will fall between 12 and 15 years, and students should expect rigorous training in a competitive environment. Many ENT doctors also participate in continuing education by collaborating with other physicians in research and academic conferences.


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