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UCLA Head and Neck Surgery


Prospective Residents

 In this Section

 Program Structure
 Teaching Responsibilities
 Curriculum and Conferences
 Living in Los Angeles

Prospective Residents

A Letter from the Chair:

Dear Applicant,

The UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery is committed to excellence in patient care and teaching, and is proud of its national and international reputation in basic and applied research.

The department provides consultative and therapeutic services for adult and pediatric patients with every type of condition pertaining to general otolaryngology, head and neck oncology, microvascular reconstructive surgery, bronchoesophagology, communicative disorders, and maxillofacial surgery.

Department faculty are active in a variety of major research areas, including laryngology and voice disorders, neurotology, audiology and hearing sciences, speech, head and neck oncology, genetics and immunology, and vestibular research.

U.S.News and World Report again ranked Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center among the top five hospitals in the United States in 2014; it has been named "Best in the West" all 25 years that these ratings have been published. UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery ranked eleventh in the nation in 2014. Several of our current and recent residents have received prestigious awards from national scientific societies for excellence in research work.

Our resident training program seeks to train new residents not only as head and neck surgeons, but as scientific investigators and academicians. Admission to the residency program remains very competitive. We interview about 30 applicants from a pool of about 260. Five applicants are accepted into the program each year. Those who intend to enter careers in research and academic medicine, whose previous records indicate that such intent is serious, and whose capabilities are commensurate with this objective, are suitable applicants for the Head and Neck Surgery Residency Program.

Thank you for your interest in our program and I wish you the best of luck in your academic and medical careers.

 David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA


Gerald S. Berke, MD
Professor and Chair
Department of Head and Neck Surgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


All application materials are processed by the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) at https://www.aamc.org/students/medstudents/eras/.

The application process requires the following:

(1) Completion of the ERAS application form
(2) USMLE Transcript
(3) Medical school transcripts
(4) Three letters of recommendation from supervising physicians/researchers
(5) Dean's Letter / Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

October 1st is the deadline for submission of the ERAS application. All supporting documentation must be uploaded to ERAS by October 15th in order for your application to be reviewed.

Interviews are by invitation only and are generally held in December and January. Interviews can not be scheduled until all materials are received by ERAS.

Residents will be matched through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) in mid-March.

For specific questions about the program or the application process, please contact:

Shelly Kane
Residency Program Coordinator
Department of Head and Neck Surgery
(310) 825-4949


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Program Structure

First Year: General Surgery (PGY-1)
The integrated UCLA Head and Neck Surgery Residency Program is a 5 year training program, the first year of which is an approved ACGME general surgery internship. The rotations are specifically selected to benefit head and neck training. Residents are required to take the annual surgery in-service exam, and are expected to have passed Part III of the National Boards to qualify for a California medical license.

In the UCLA program, first-year residents are assigned to the divisions of General Surgery at UCLA, Olive View Medical Center, and the VA Healthcare System (West Los Angeles) for training in basic surgical techniques and in the management of pre- and postoperative surgical patients. Residents attend various departmental and division conferences on a regular basis. They make daily inpatient staff rounds, assist in major surgical operations and perform minor procedures under supervision.  The first-year residents will also have the opportunity to enhance their experience by rotating through 2 months of head and neck surgery, as well as 1 month of anesthesiology and emergency medicine. 

A mentor from the Department of Head and Neck Surgery is assigned to each resident to monitor progress through the program and to assist the resident should any problems arise.

Second and Third Years: Otolaryngology (PGY-2 and PGY-3)
These 2 years are devoted to the acquisition of a good foundation in the basic principles of otolaryngology. Residents develop the ability to use the tools of the field under close supervision of the faculty. They are introduced to head and neck and general otolaryngological surgery by assisting the faculty in the operating rooms. After achieving a basic knowledge of the procedures, residents perform surgical procedures under supervision. They serve as consultants to the hospital emergency room service and take consultations requested by other services, reviewing cases with a chief resident and the attending staff. As part of the initial training experience, residents are exposed to surgical pathology and radiology in order to gain proficiency in these fields. This training is utilized when residents present cases at the weekly Head and Neck Tumor Board.

Residents' outpatient responsibilities include history-taking, most minor treatments, hearing testing under the auspices of an audiologist, training in clinical neuro-otological and vestibular examination procedures, and training in diagnostic and treatment procedures for voice and speech disorders.

During this period, residents are encouraged to develop relationships with faculty and observe various research laboratories. This exposure introduces residents to the various investigators and research being conducted in the department laboratories and allows them to begin to select the laboratory and investigator that best fits their areas of interest. Research rotations are scheduled in the R-4 year.

Fourth Year: Otolaryngology (PGY-4)
Fourth-year residents assume increasing reponsibility in the care of patients before, during, and after surgery. They assist the chief residents and faculty in many operations, and perform operations of intermediate complexity under close faculty supervision. Residents directly supervise the senior medical students (clinical clerks). They prepare and deliver presentations on subjects related to hospitalized patients, and continue to work on research projects. It is during this year that residents will have 6 months to primarily focus on personal research objectives.

Fifth Year: Otolaryngology Chief Resident (PGY-5)
This year is one of advanced responsibility. Residents conduct daily rounds and see all pre- and postoperative patients. Chief residents have definitive responsibility for the care of patients, including all aspects of preoperative and postoperative care, with consultation and assistance from the faculty. Chief residents supervise junior residents and medical students in the outpatient clinics (with faculty available as consultants).

Chief residents are expected to continue and complete research work that was previously initiated. Efforts are made to place papers on regional and national programs, and significant reports are submitted for publication.

Throughout the training years, limited but increasingly greater responsibilities for teaching, research and administration are assigned to residents in an effort to prepare them for academic careers.

On-Call and Consultation Information
Residents participate in all clinical activities of the department, both in the clinic and in the operating room. Residents take all calls from home. Residents on-call go to the emergency room as needed. Chief residents on-call are notified of all patients admitted through the emergency room. If a patient proceeds to the operating room, the surgery will be staffed by a resident and a faculty member. In addition to emergency calls, on-call residents make rounds on all post-operative and acutely ill patients before signing out. They are responsible for checking on all preoperative cases, laboratory tests, X-rays and pre-op orders. Consultations may be assigned by the chief resident to a junior resident who will make the consultation and then confer with the chief resident. All consultations are seen on the same day they are received. A full-time faculty member is always available on-call ffor consults.


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Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
Since opening its doors in 1955, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has consistently been a healthcare innovator. Known worldwide for its pioneering technological contributions, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center year after year is ranked Best in the West by U.S. News and World Report's annual survey of "America's Best Hospitals."

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center offers patients of all ages comprehensive care, from routine to highly specialized medical and surgical treatment. Some factors that contribute to its top ranking are specialized intensive care units, state-of-the-art inpatient and outpatient operating suites, a Level-1 trauma center, the latest diagnostic technology, and a high level of commitment from a dedicated and experienced staff of more than 1,000 physicians and 3,500 nurses, therapists, technologists and support personnel.

The surgical suite is the largest complex of integrated operating rooms built to date, using technologies such as built-in touch panels and voice-activated command systems to maintain a sterile operating environment. Operating rooms and adjacent interventional procedure rooms all feature modular floor plans, allowing them to continually and efficiently expand and reconfigure as medical technology evolves in new directions. UCLA surgeons will continue to have more space, equipment, connectivity, flexibility and control in the operating rooms. The new hospital reflects the collaborative vision of UCLA's medical professionals for the future of surgery and medicine. The blurring of disciplines inspired a versatile design enabling surgeons to uniquely communicate within and beyond their operating room to achieve a higher level of connectivity and efficiency. UCLA teams can now offer surgical techniques that are minimally invasive and maximally effective.

UCLA Medical Plaza Outpatient Clinic
Located adjacent to the medical center, UCLA Medical Plaza offers an accessible, friendly environment for a broad range of outpatient services, including more than 80 specialty clinics.

The Medical Plaza is composed of the following facilities:

  • 100 UCLA Medical Plaza, a 140,000-square-foot facility, provides space for approximately 100 physicians who are currently members or are eligible to become members of the clinical faculty of the school of medicine. It is the first facility of its kind to be privately developed, financed and operated on a UC campus.
  • 200 UCLA Medical Plaza, a six-story, 380,000-square-foot outpatient care center, houses virtually all of UCLA Medical Center's outpatient services. It offers a complete range of services, from a Family Health Center offering primary care for routine illnesses, to clinics providing state-of-the-art outpatient treatments for complex cancers. The facilities in the Surgery Center enable patients to go home the same day following many types of surgical procedures.
  • 300 UCLA Medical Plaza, a 104,000-square-foot building on the southern end of the plaza, houses the outpatient and training programs of the Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, as well as the Medical Center's rehabilitation program.

Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. It is a public teaching hospital that is well known for its academic excellence. The facility is operated by the County of Los Angeles and serves a population of 2 million, providing care for the underserved population in southern Los Angeles County.

The hospital is an academic affiliate of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and faculty members have academic appointments at UCLA. The medical center consists of numerous buildings, including a 52,000-square-foot primary care and diagnostic center, housed on 71 acres. The main hospital has 553 beds and 63 bassinets, and is a Level-1 trauma center.

Olive View-UCLA Medical Center
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is a county hospital located in the north end of the San Fernando Valley, about 30 minutes away from UCLA. The 377-bed medical center is a general acute-care teaching hospital that serves more than 1.5 million residents of the San Fernando Valley and adjacent north Los Angeles County areas. Olive View-UCLA Medical Center primarily serves an ethnically diverse, low-income and middle-class patient population.

West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center
The West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center is a 700+ bed hospital located a few miles west of the main UCLA campus and serves as the hub of the newly created Greater Los Angeles VA Health Care System. A new paperless medical record system highlights the innovations in this medical center. The medical center has a large full-time faculty who all have academic positions at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Children's Hospital of Los Angeles
Founded in 1901, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles began with four beds in a converted private home. Today, it is a world resource for advanced pediatric care. Each year, the nonprofit, 314-bed hospital receives 300,000 visits from patients ranging in age from newborn to 18 years.

Every year since beginning its annual "America's Best Hospitals" survey in 1990, U.S. News & World Report magazine has listed CHLA among the country's top five pediatric facilities. The CHLA medical staff is composed of 350 highly respected community physicians and more than 250 hospital-based doctors.


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Resident Teaching Responsibilities

The Medical School Training Program encompasses opportunities for training and teaching medical students and junior residents in the field of otolaryngology. The program's purpose is to stimulate interest among medical students in the broad field of otolaryngology, and to prepare residents for academic and research careers in this specialty.

Residents play an active role in medical student teaching. While otolaryngology is included in all 4 years of the UCLA Medical School curriculum, faculty members of the department primarily contribute to the first and second years. First-year topics include basic anatomy and physiology related to the head and neck. Introduction to Clinical Medicine is covered in the second year of medical school. Motivated residents are welcomed to join the faculty during these formative years. Residents are primarily responsible for medical student teaching during the third and fourth years. Before clinical rotations begin, time is apportioned to teach and demonstrate the ENT physical examination. On a weekly basis, a third-year medical student is assigned to each of the Head and Neck Surgery (Otolaryngology) Services. The fourth year of the UCLA Medical School consists entirely of elective rotations. Motivated students elect intensive clinical clerkships typically in the Reagan or Harbor Hospitals. During these rotations residents are expected to teach the fundamentals of otolaryngology as well as begin laying the foundation for fine clinical and surgical skills. Finally, residents are encouraged to enjoin the medical students in their research opportunities. 

The chief residents assume the main responsibility for teaching and supervising medical students and junior residents, cultivating, the habit of teaching. The head and neck faculty serve as preceptors, advisors, and counselors to all students and residents and are always available. It is, however, incumbent upon all residents to take a special interest in the students by encouraging and teaching them whenever possible. This, after all, is the primary method of all medical training.


Curriculum and Conferences

The program's curriculum is focused on providing residents with a well-rounded education in all facets of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

Conferences are presented in otology, laryngology, oncology, pediatric otolaryngology, pharmacology, immunology, allergy, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, audiology and speech, research methods and ethics, psychosocial issues, and practice management (medical, legal, financial, etc.).  Conferences are held Wednesday afternoons after the weekly multidisciplinary Tumor Board. Residents prepare and present approximately half of all lectures and are generally paired with a faculty lecture based on a specific topic. Faculty lectures are presented by UCLA head and neck faculty, faculty from other departments at UCLA, and visiting faculty from other universities. Operating rooms in all of the hospitals and clinics are closed at noon, except for emergencies, to allow residents to attend these conferences.

Program workshops and cadaveric courses are offered in laryngeal anatomy, functional endoscopic sinus surgery, facial plastic dissection course, as well as simulated and cadaveric temporal bone drilling. Monthly rotating journal clubs are held in Otology, Rhinology, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Laryngology, and Pediatric Otolaryngology. Monthly morbidity and mortality conferences are held, and are considered an essential forum for resident education.

Please take a look at our residency curriculum and journal club/subspecialty conference schedules.



The department hosts several laboratories through which residents and other research trainees can become engaged in contemporary investigations within disciplines closely associated with otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. Each of these laboratories is extramurally funded through federal and private foundation sources, ensuring that each resident has ample opportunity for research in a broad selection of topics. Read more about the Department's Research Labs.

Residents are encouraged to publish and present their research at local, regional, and national research conferences. The Department of Head and Neck Surgery also holds an annual scientific session as a way for our graduating residents to present their research projects for all residents and faculty. An award is given to the best research presentation.


Living in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is an international crossroads that has been called the world capital of the 21st Century. Known for being a dynamic and trend-setting city, Los Angeles' ethnic and social diversity make it a particularly interesting and rewarding place to live and learn. In addition to its wide panorama of cultural offerings, the area boasts a range of recreational activities in its nearby ocean, mountains, and deserts that include water sports, snow sports, hiking, climbing, and hundreds of other ways of enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of being in one of the world's economic and cultural centers.

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 For a detailed resource for "Living in LA", visit the GME website.

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