Our Programs

Our commitment to education includes teaching undergraduate and postgraduate trainees, as well as other health care professionals. Due to our clinical diversity and case volumes, UHN has the largest clinical fellowship program in Canada. On any given day, learners at all levels, including medical students, residents, fellows and observers, can be found in our division. Below is a list of our educational and research programs.

Some education programs at UHN may be suspended or modified at this time. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

The Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, at UHN offers a variety of clinical and research fellowships. Fellows are exposed to a mix of cases and may participate in elective rotations, lecture series, journal clubs, institutional rounds and conferences. Fellows will also have the opportunity to be involved in clinical and basic science research. We currently offer the following fellowships.

Head & Neck Surgical Oncology

The Head & Neck Surgical Oncology Fellowship aims to provide Fellows with the skills and knowledge for managing patients with head and neck neoplasms. Fellows will gain experience in head and neck oncological extirpative surgery, reconstructive surgery with an emphasis on microvascular free tissue transfer, and endocrine and salivary surgery.

UHN surgeons contributing supervision to this program include:

Medical & Surgical Otology/Neurotology

The Medical & Surgical Otology/Neurotology Fellowship provides advanced otologic and neurotologic training in both ambulatory and operating room settings. Fellows will have the opportunity to gain skills in complex middle ear/mastoid surgery, endoscopic ear surgery, specialized neurotologic surgery (lateral skull base resections, acoustic neuroma surgery, etc.) and advanced otologic (canal occlusion surgery, facial nerve transposition, etc.) procedures. Fellows will be expected to produce two to four publications from clinical research projects. UHN and Markham Stouffville Hospital are the two participating sites. At UHN, Dr. John Rutka supervises the program and he is also the Fellowship Director.

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on all of the Fellowship Programs is provided by the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

The University of Toronto offers a five-year Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery residency program to train the next generation of head and neck surgeons. The program comprises two years of core surgery training and three years of specialty training. UHN is one of seven hospitals and health centres that Residents rotate through. Residents will be trained in the modern medical, surgical and treatment methods and gain exposure to UHN’s subspecialties in head and neck surgical oncology, and surgical otology. A four-month research block is included in the program.

Residents are evaluated in the clinical setting by their supervisor(s), and are encouraged to develop autonomy and skills that will help them on their path toward independent practice.

Resident education includes didactic teaching sessions with specific topics presented over the duration of their rotation, simulation sessions, oral exam practice sessions, head and neck surgery seminars, education and research rounds. In addition, journal club rounds are offered periodically.

Daily Teaching

An important focus of our postgraduate resident education program is the daily teaching, which consists of: informal and formal teaching sessions through resident and Faculty as well as fellow interactions on the ward, in the clinic, the operating room, and on-call.

The entire teaching series has been designed to allow important basic and subspecialty head and neck surgery lectures to be completed during each resident rotation.

Most of our staff participate in these teaching sessions. To ensure a comprehensive curriculum, we include teaching by our non-physician healthcare colleagues, where appropriate.

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on the Residency Program is provided by the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

Dr. George Oreopoulos and Dr. Caleb Zavitz
Every year the UHN Department of Surgery hosts a Holiday Fun Rounds in December as an opportunity for the residents, fellows and other staff to show their 'appreciation and affection' for all the surgical staff. Here, Dr. George Oreopoulos is shown presenting the 2019 award for best rounds presentation to Dr. Caleb Zavitz.

Research is integral to many of the educational programs supported by the Division of Head and Neck Surgery. Many of the Division’s surgeons lead cutting-edge research programs and are appointed, affiliated or clinical scientists in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, The Techna Institute, and Toronto General Hospital Research Institute at UHN:

Research areas of interest include head and neck cancers, head and neck reconstruction, otolaryngology, surgical oncology, robotic surgery, minimally invasive surgery, image-guided surgery, reconstructive microsurgery and clinical outcomes.

Some of our surgeons hold additional appointments in departments at the University of Toronto beyond their appointments with the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, such as:

For more information on the research being done at UHN and the University of Toronto:

University of Toronto Medical Students

The Division of Head and Neck Surgery has a significant role in Undergraduate Education at the University of Toronto.

The University offers core and elective experience for its undergraduate Medical Students. First- and second-year students have the opportunity to partake in a pre-clerkship curriculum – the Foundations Curriculum. They also have the opportunity to participate in clinical electives, meet with surgeons, and do summer research projects. Students in their third year can rotate with the Division of Head and Neck Surgery as Clinical Clerks as part of a one-week Otolaryngology block in the Anesthesia/Ophthalmology/Otolaryngology rotation. As Clerks, students will be assigned to a team where they will be integrated into the daily patient care activities. By being in the clinic and operating room as well as attending seminars, Clerks will be exposed to an overview of the different types of surgical problems and care.

During their rotation, students will develop the skills to:

  • Take and record a complete Otolarygology-head and neck surgery (Oto-HNS) history and exam
  • Perform a complete Oto-HNS exam as is performed routinely on all patients with complaints of the head and neck, and arrive at a tentative clinical diagnosis
  • Differentiate between life-threatening, serious and minor conditions, and initiate treatment of common Oto-HNS conditions
  • Recognize the necessity for referral to specialists in this field and become familiar with the methods of special investigation of Oto-HNS complaints
  • Become familiar with the various modalities of treatment used in Oto-HNS

Further information on Undergraduate education is provided by the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto.

Elective Program

The Division of Head and Neck Surgery accepts Elective Students from the University of Toronto as well as universities across Canada and abroad. Further information is provided by the University of Toronto’s Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS)

The CREMS Summer Program provides medical students with the opportunity to obtain research experience during the summer months.

The CREMS Summer Program is open to first- and second-year medical students at the University of Toronto.

Applications are submitted, reviewed, ranked and selected by the CREMS Director and a review panel of three other faculty members.

Students in the program present their work at the University of Toronto Medical Student Research Day, which is held in the following year with a poster presentation. Supervisors ensure that students receive the appropriate training needed to conduct their research projects.

Further information is provided by the CREMS office at the University of Toronto.

Patient as Teacher Program

The third-year surgical clerkship for undergraduate medical students at the University of Toronto integrates the Patient as Teacher program. Comprising three workshops and production of a creative reflection piece, this program aims to promote humanism and patient-centred approaches in medicine. Patients share their experiences and insights to provide students with the patient perspective of the surgical journey.

Further information is provided by the Patient as Teacher program.

Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks
Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks George Ho (left) and Sivaani Sivaselvachandran (right).

The Observerships program at UHN provides health care professionals and students from around the world the opportunity to observe examinations and other procedures performed by UHN staff physicians, surgeons, nurses, and health professionals. All Observers require a UHN sponsor – a clinical or surgical staff member who will be responsible for the Observer’s learning experience. It is the observer’s responsibility to connect with a sponsor and then proceed with the application process.

In addition to the general Observerships program, the International Centre for Education at UHN’s Michener Institute of Education offers the Personalized Learning Program.

Personalized Learning Program (PLP)

The PLP at UHN is a fully customizable, observership-based program designed to meet learner goals and objectives. No two PLPs are exactly the same! Various resources and expertise throughout UHN are leveraged to enhance the learning experience. The program office works closely with host program(s) and learners to develop an Education Plan, outlining the activities of the PLP which are meant to meet the learning objectives. One-on-one coaching time and check-ins are also scheduled throughout the program, as needed. Learners are asked to provide a short presentation at the end of the program to summarize their learning and provide feedback. Learners also receive a UHN-Michener Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.

Depending on the PLP, the program may also be done virtually. A virtual PLP will provide one-on-one or group mentorship-like experiences and masterclasses with UHN clinicians and leaders. The virtual programs will be designed around and focused on meeting learners’ personalized learning needs and objectives.

Further information on the PLP is available from the International Centre for Education.

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