The Otolaryngology Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a five-year, ACGME-accredited program that admits two residents per year.
The primary goal of our residents is developing the knowledge base, surgical skills, clinical acumen and research skills to be successful in a career in otolaryngology. To that end, we provide an environment and clinical experience, which allows professional growth to occur.
Our Otolaryngology Residency provides the full spectrum of clinical exposure, with focus on head and neck oncology, pediatric otolaryngology, otology, facial plastics and reconstructive surgery, maxillofacial trauma, laryngology, sinonasal and allergic disease, and endocrine surgery.
Preparing Residents for Success
Residents are expected to be dedicated to the ideals of residency training, with emphasis on the balance of self-directed and facilitated learning, combined with diligence in the execution of patient care responsibilities.
- Our program is based on a single inpatient facility, with an integrated service. Outpatient experience is obtained through our University Physicians Center on campus, as well as at an off-site outpatient clinic.
- Operative experience is primarily at our main hospital, but outpatient surgical experiences occur through our SurgiCenters.
- Call responsibilities are for Medical Center emergency room and inpatient consults, as well as inpatient otolaryngology patients. Residents usually take call from home, at the discretion of the program director. Typically, call schedules are maintained at every fourth night. Our program is compliant with current ACGME requirements for resident work hours.
- Three weeks of vacation are provided per year. An additional five days of continuing medical education (CME)/education time may be approved at the residency director’s discretion. Learn more about policies and benefits for all residents here.
- Our residency program provides access to a full complement of electronic journals and textbooks through Harrell Health Sciences Library and divisional resources.
A Residency Manual is distributed each year to the residents, which includes the program outline, current curriculum, residency policies, and examples of tools utilized in resident and program evaluation.
The Penn State Otolaryngology Residency aims to guide the adult learner from medical student to an independent and competent practitioner of the surgical field. The process involves hard work and dedication on the part of educators and learners. A presumption is held that the resident applicant is an intelligent, motivated, and dedicated individual who enters the program seeking to reach the goal of competence and even expertise. With that ideal in mind, the curriculum has been designed and implemented to assist in achieving that goal. Significant independent, self-directed learning is expected from the resident throughout the training program.
The overreaching goals of the program include:
- Guide the resident in development of an extensive fund of knowledge within medicine, and specifically the otolaryngologic sciences.
- Empower the resident in the arena of lifelong learning, as residency is not the completion, but the beginning of this process.
- Provide graduated and progressive responsibility in the care of medical and surgical patients, as determined by training and ability.
- Set forth practices to insure competent, safe, high-quality and fiscally responsible medical care to the patients under our care, regardless of socioeconomic or cultural background.
- Provide guidance and experiential learning in the area of medical research, as a foundation for furthering the medical field and personal professional growth.
- Provide skills in the identification and application of evidence-based medicine.
- Assist in the creation of effective communication techniques for trainees, for interactions with peers, health care professionals, patients, families and the community at large.
- Promote awareness of the value of coordination of care among members of the
healthcare delivery system, keeping in mind of safety, quality and cost containment.
- Develop the skills to incorporate formative and summative feedback in continuous practice improvement.
- Promote all aspects of the six ACGME core competencies, as they relate to otolaryngology (head and neck surgery).
The first year is performed at our primary institution, including rotations of six months in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and one month on Surgical ICU, Ophthalmology/Oculoplastics, Neurosurgery, Anesthesia, Pediatric Surgery and General Surgery.
PGY-2 to PGY-5
Years two through five involve a strong surgical training experience across the spectrum of our specialty, with an emphasis on balanced exposure. The Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital are the focal points of the clinical experience. These freestanding facilities are connected to our Penn State Cancer Institute and well as our primary outpatient clinic setting. An on-campus ambulatory surgery center, along with a private community SurgiCenter, provides another setting for surgical experience building.
Two educational tracks are currently available within the program:
- The Clinical Track involves the five years of clinical training, with an ongoing expectation of academic productivity (e.g., research and publications), including the PGY-3 dedicated research block for three months.
- The Research Track fosters an interest in academic and surgeon-scientist careers. The residents in this track spend the initial year after selection in research activities, primarily through the Penn State Institute of Personalized Medicine and Genomics Program. Read more about the Research Track.
Research can provide excellent resident educational opportunities. All residents are required to participate in structured research activities, with at least one long-term project.
- Residents have three months of dedicated research time during their PGY-3.
- Submission for publication of the project in a peer-reviewed journal is required.
- Annually, each resident must identify a project and submit an abstract to the Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology.
Most residents participate in research beyond these requirements.
Outside Educational Opportunities
Division-sponsored academic courses offer outside educational opportunities. The course opportunities include a basic science course, airway foreign body courses, the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA) Basic Course, junior and senior resident simulation courses, as well as other courses as they become available.
Residents are encouraged to attend professional meetings annually. Experience and education are maximized if the resident presents a paper at these meetings. If an oral research presentation is to be delivered by the resident, reasonable travel expenses will be covered by the division.
The Research Track program offers in-depth exposure and experience in basic, translational and clinical research in the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck and thyroid malignancies, as well as other related conditions usually seen by an otolaryngologist head and neck surgeon. The training program lasts one year and takes place prior to entrance into PGY-1 of the Otolaryngology Residency. The second year then begins the traditional clinical five-year track pattern.
Our Research Track program trains a new generation of researchers and leaders who will eventually assume leadership roles and further the development of our specialties. In particular, we plan to expand the training experience so that residents become not only proficient as clinicians and consultants, but also become well versed in the emerging genomic tools of personalized medicine.
Support Systems, Mentoring and Evaluations
Penn State College of Medicine and the sponsoring departments for the research track provide exceptional clinical and scientific resources and a rich environment for the training of specialists in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. The Otolaryngology Residency draws on resources and faculty from Penn State College of Medicine, Department of Surgery and the Institute of Personalized Medicine.
All aspects of our Resident Research Program training are carefully monitored and evaluated. A cornerstone of the evaluation process is faculty feedback in face-to-face meetings at the end of each quarter. These meetings are scheduled by the program coordinator to be certain that they occur. Semi-annual and annual meetings, as well as final (summative) evaluations are held with the program director where all evaluation methods are reviewed.
Residents will be given an advisor at the time they enter the program to help navigate their initial few months and to assist in networking for the choice of a research. Once a resident has a mentor and a research project, they must assemble a Research Advisory Committee to oversee the work and monitor progress. The Advisory Committee also advises the mentor and mentee as well as program leadership. Each year, residents formally present their research at a Research Exchange to a panel of faculty and their peers, and receive a composite evaluation for the quality of the work, presentation skills, etc.
Office and Lab Space
Our Otolaryngology Research Resident will be assigned individual desk and research bench space and resources throughout his or her year of training. These are located in the Institute of Personalized Medicine, in the Biomedical Research Building at Penn State College of Medicine.
The Institute encompasses 5,000 square feet of newly renovated laboratory space, equipped with all the instrumentation necessary for state-of-the-art genomic studies, including:
- Several Next Gen sequencers (an Illumina HiSeq 2500, an Ion Proton, an Illumina MiSeq)
- All of the support equipment for highly parallel processing of samples for analysis
- A Qiagen Symphony, a Covaris multi-sample sonicator
- An Apollo library preparation robot
- All the support equipment for nucleic acid quantification and evaluation
Residents will have access to all of these instruments and are expected to become well versed in the preparation of libraries and execution of next gen sequencing protocols.
The administrators for the Residency Research Program include:
Training in Genomics
Our Research Track residents will have extensive exposure to and training in genomic medicine with access to formal coursework in analysis of large genomic data sets.
One such course, Applied Bio-informatics, is designed to introduce students to the various applications of high-throughput sequencing including chip req, RNA-Seq, SNP calling, metagenomics, de novo assembly and others. The course material concentrates on presenting complete data analysis scenarios for each of these domains of applications and introduces students to a wide variety of existing tools and techniques.
In addition, we run informal training sessions in various aspects of genomic analysis under the tutelage of members of our bio-informatics staff, a group of four PhD-level bio-informaticists and their affiliated graduate students, postdocs and staff.
Residents will also be exposed regularly to ongoing research within the Institute of Personalized Medicine. Institute members meet for two regularly scheduled hour-long meetings each week, one devoted to formal updates on each of the two dozen or so collaborative projects ongoing in the Institute and one devoted to technical aspects of genomic analysis.
The Institute also hosts a biweekly Next Gen Sequencing meeting, in which investigators share tips, insights, and internal and external advances in sequencing techniques. It also hosts a biweekly IPM Science meeting, at which clinicians from across the Medical Center describe clinical settings and diseases in which genomics might play a role.
Beyond attending the Institute-sponsored sessions, residents will be expected to participate in a weekly scientific group meeting of his or her research mentor. Both Dr. Broach and Dr. Gerhard have weekly two-hour group meetings in which the members of the group present their research progress on a regular basis and explore recently published topics related to their research.
The Otolaryngology Residency carefully reviews all applications. The candidacy of applicants is not based on any singular factor, but a holistic review of the entire package of provided materials.
Key items we need for this selection process include:
- Electronic Residency Application Services (ERAS) application listing your experiences
- At least three letters of recommendation
- U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) scores
- Medical school transcript
- Dean’s letter
- Personal statement
Interview offers are then made to applicants who we feel have qualifications and attributes best suited to being successful in our program.
Applicants may apply to the Otolaryngology/Clinical Track or Otolaryngology/Research Track in ERAS. This is helpful to us in prioritizing and best evaluating the application.
However, those who apply for and receive an interview with the Otolaryngology/Clinical track will also receive information on the Research Track. The applicant can express interest in consideration for both tracks; however, each applicant needs to rank one or both programs as they fit their interests.
The deadline for application is Nov. 1. Interview dates are typically in December and January. If offered an interview, you will be contacted with date options.
If you wish to apply to our program, please do so through:
Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr., MC H091
P.O. Box 850
Hershey, PA 17033
General Contact Information