The Otolaryngology Residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, includes one year of general surgical training (PGY-1) and four years of specialty training in otolaryngology (PGY-2 through PGY-5).

Clinical training


The first year of training focuses on the fundamental principles of surgery, with an emphasis on the head and neck. Residents gain experience in the preoperative and postoperative management of general surgery patients.

The first year includes rotations in:

  • Critical care medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • Endocrine surgery-general surgery
  • Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Surgical oncology


During the second year, trainees assist chief residents and staff members in the operating room. Each resident is assigned as the first assistant to a staff member, so they can learn the systems and procedures used to evaluate patients in a clinical setting.

Residents receive comprehensive training in otorhinolaryngologic diagnostic procedures, perform most minor surgical procedures, and assist with major operations. Trainees are given the opportunity to develop and refine their clinical skills in medical history evaluation and head and neck examinations.

PGY-2 residents receive supervised instruction in the performance and interpretation of audiograms, electronystagmography and cochlear implantation. Residents also spend time in the Multidisciplinary Simulation Center reviewing procedural skills on endoscopic sinus surgery, as well as microlaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy, and in the anatomy laboratory reviewing surgical skills on head and neck procedures such as neck dissection, parotidectomy and regional anatomy important to head and neck surgery and also surgical skills pertaining to facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

PGY-3 and PGY-4

During these two years, the trainee is designated as a senior resident or first assistant. Residents take six rotations of three months each and are assigned to one or two staff members during each rotation.

As residents progress through the rotations, they are increasingly responsible for the preoperative evaluation, preparation and postoperative follow-up of patients. Once residents have demonstrated reasonable familiarity with various surgical techniques, they are allowed to perform more complex portions of operations. By the end of each three-month rotation, trainees may be performing most operations with the staff member acting as an assistant or supervisor.

At the end of their rotations, residents have broad experience in the areas of:

  • Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • General otolaryngology
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Otology
  • Maxillofacial trauma
  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Rhinology

Finally, during PGY-3 and PGY-4, each resident is encouraged to spend six months participating in a research project of some significance. Optionally, this time can be used to pursue an advanced degree.


During the final year, a resident may be designated as a chief resident associate with assigned patients. The resident has full responsibility for the evaluation, diagnosis and therapeutic management of these patients. However, members of the staff continue to be readily available for consultations. Residents spend four weeks on an off-campus assignment at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis to augment their skills in managing maxillofacial trauma as well as to gain experience with patients and training at a county hospital setting.

International opportunities

Residents are encouraged to participate in an annual departmental humanitarian mission to a developing country to perform cleft and craniofacial reconstructive surgery.

Didactic training

Clinical conferences, seminars, small discussion groups, journal clubs and one-on-one instruction are an integral part of Mayo Clinic's Otolaryngology Residency.

Residents have weekly didactic educational sessions from September through June each year. This core curriculum covers a variety of adult and pediatric topics from five major areas:

  • General otolaryngology
  • Laryngology-head and neck
  • Otology and audiology
  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Rhinology

These didactic presentations are made primarily by staff consultants and colleagues in pathology, medicine, plastic surgery, neurosurgery and pertinent basic science fields.

Residents participate in a weekly clinical conference dealing with diagnostic problems, morbidity and mortality cases, and pathology. PGY-1 residents are welcome to attend this conference as their schedules permit. Attendance is required during PGY-2 through PGY-5.

Trainees also have the opportunity to take introductory and laboratory courses in:

  • Cardiac life support
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Microsurgery of the ear and temporal bone dissection

Residents are encouraged to complete the microvascular surgery course and participate in microvascular reconstructive cases.



  • Chief resident conference
  • Weekly resident presentation conference
  • Head and neck tumor board
  • Core curriculum (assigned readings and staff lectures)


  • Trauma management
  • Head and neck pathology
  • Mortality and morbidity
  • Journal club

Research training

Otolaryngology residents are required to engage in six months of basic science research between the PGY-3 and PGY-4 years.

Clinician-Investigator Track

Participation in Mayo Clinic's Clinician-Investigator Training Program in otolaryngology enables a resident to complete all of the requirements for certification and obtain 1 1/2 years of fully funded research experience within six years.

To apply for the Clinician-Investigator Training Program, express your interest when you apply for the Otolaryngology Residency.

If you are successful in the otolaryngology matching program, you will receive more information about Mayo's research opportunities during additional interviews.

This is a typical Clinician-Investigator Training Program rotation schedule:

Year Rotation
*Otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery
†Components in PGY-3 and PGY-4 can be arranged to meet a resident's clinical, surgical and research needs.
PGY-1 General surgical training
PGY-2 ORL-HNS* surgical second assistant
PGY-3/PGY-4† 18 months as ORL-HNS first assistant and 6 months laboratory research
PGY-5 Chief resident associate in ORL-HNS
PGY-6 12 months additional laboratory research

Call frequency

Primary call for junior residents occurs on an average of every fifth night, averaged over a four-week period. This is in-house call; call rooms are available at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, on an assigned and reserved basis for otorhinolaryngology residents. At-home call for residents in the PGY-3 and PGY-4 occurs in such a manner to allow one in seven days, averaged over four weeks, free from all educational and patient care responsibilities.

Call responsibilities for residents in the PGY-5 year (chief resident associate) occur no more frequently than one out of four weeks, averaged over a four-week period.


Moonlighting is permitted for residents in years PGY-2 through PGY-5 with approval from the program director. Moonlighting must be scheduled so as not to overly fatigue residents or interfere with their educational responsibilities.

Teaching opportunities

Residents are encouraged to participate in the otolaryngology core lectures and small groups with first- and second-year students in Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.

Committee assignments

A PGY-4 resident is recruited to sit on the departmental education committee. Additionally, residents may be nominated for positions on the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery committees if they have specific interest.

Scholarly activities

Residents are encouraged to present their clinical and basic science work at national meetings and to publish their work in prominent otolaryngology journals. They receive reimbursement for expenses incurred for presentations and attendance at meetings.


To ensure that trainees acquire adequate knowledge and develop their technical skills, performance is monitored carefully during the Otolaryngology Residency. Residents are evaluated formally by their supervising faculty members after each clinical rotation and their competency in the six essential core competencies is assessed.

In addition, residents regularly evaluate the faculty to ensure that their educational needs are being met. We incorporate 360-degree reviews to receive evaluations from staff and medical personnel in the clinic and operating rooms. Residents are required to take the Otolaryngology Training Examination offered by the American Board of Otolaryngology during the PGY-1 through PGY-5 years of residency. Scores are monitored to identify deficiencies and proficiencies.

Oct. 18, 2016