Why Otolaryngology?

IMG_6174How I got my start in the ENT world

My boyfriend’s brother is a speech-language pathologist (SLPs work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders) and his girlfriend is an audiologist (healthcare professionals who prevent, identify, diagnose, and treat hearing, balance and other auditory disorders). So… when I found out that I got accepted into PA school, I joked that I could now join the family practice.

Fast forward to PA school when we had our HEENT block in clinical medicine, I had an amazing professor by the name of Jose Mercado. This man has really paved the way for PAs in Otolaryngology. If anyone is interested and know that they want to work in ENT post-grad, let’s talk! There are some really great resources and scholarships that I wish I would’ve taken advantage of as a PA student.

Towards the end of my didactic year, Jose invited my class to attend the SPAO-HNS (The Society of PAs in Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck) conference in Miami. I enjoyed his lectures,  but wasn’t sold on ENT until one of the doctors told me that ENT is where it’s at if you like to play with toys!

When clinical year came along, I still wasn’t quite sure what area of medicine I wanted to specialize in. My electives fell through and although I didn’t get to rotate in ENT, I knew that I wanted to specialize in a sub surgical specialty such as ENT or urology or anything that would allow me to perform small procedures in the office. The following year, I attended the same SPAO conference, this time in Orlando. I signed up for a meet-n-greet session set up similar to speed dating. You rotate through different tables and have a 5-minute interview with the hiring physician/employer.

I was fortunate enough that one of my interviewers, who so happens to be the Medical Director (and now my supervising physician) contacted me the following week and invited me for a second interview and the opportunity to meet my fellow physician extenders (PAs/NPs).  I knew that day then and there that THAT was the dream team and I could not wait to start and be a part of the ENT family!

So don’t be disheartened if you do not get to pick an elective of your choice. I think networking is such a huge factor in landing my job as a new grad.

Life in the ENT World

I can’t believe how quickly time flies. I have been at this job for over a month already! What I have learned so far is that ENT is so much more than sinuses and ear wax. It encompasses so many more specialties such as neurology, pulmonary, dermatology just to name a few.

My position as an ENT physician extender at my current practice is very unique. Because we are affiliated with a university, my assistance is greater needed in an outpatient setting. The residents are the ones assisting in the OR (which quite frankly, I’m okay with. I don’t know about y’all.. but surgery kind of bores me).

Also, most ENT practices either practice general ENT or in a subspecialty of ENT.  Others have questioned my extensive orientation period, but due to the fact that we see such a variety of cases and have the opportunity to cover multiple areas of ENT,  I’m just pleased to have this type of support early on in my training.

Here is a break down of all of the clinics that I help cover and some of the disorders that we see and treat:

General adult ENT Diseases

  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Balance disorders (vertigo)
  • Obstructive Sleep apnea
  • Otitis externa

Pediatric ENT Diseases

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Myringotomy
  • Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy (T&A)
  • Ear infection (Acute/chronic)

Aesthetic and Reconstructive Facial Plastic Surgery

  • Facial reconstruction
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Septoplasty
  • Head and neck cancer

Neurotology/Ear Clinic:

  • Acoustic Neuroma
  • Cholesteatoma
  • Chronic otitis media
  • Cochlear implants
  • Conductive hearing loss (CHL)
  • Sensory neural hearing loss (SNHL)
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Otitis externa
  • Otosclerosis
  • Semicircular canal dehiscence
  • Sudden SNHL
  • Tinnitus

Rhinology/ Sinus Clinic

  • Sinusitis
  • Anosmia
  • Hyposmia

Head and neck

  • Dysphagia
  • Laryngeal nerve damage
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Focal fold paralysis

If you are a PA student and think you’d like to become an ENT PA, let’s connect! Join SPAO as a PA Student member for only $10/year! http://entpa.org/


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