In terms of my training, I was initially accepted on to Basic Surgical Training after two years of house officer work. That was the old system. In 2008 I went directly to SET2. I have had 18months off work on parental leave and recommenced my training after this. I am now on SET3 and have another 2½ years to go. Beyond this, I will complete a fellowship either here or potentially in Australia, depending on what opportunities are available. There are many opportunities to complete fellowships overseas. As part of the SET training for ENT here in NZ we are moved around a bit. I have spent 6 months in Hamilton and will be heading to Whangarei later this year. ENT isn't too bad for moving us around though, as only the big centres in NZ have training positions - you just have to realise its part of the training and get on with it. A bonus of moving around is that each region has benefits, such as Whangarei has good operating experience.
I enjoy working in ENT as you get to experience such a wide and challenging range of surgeries. We get to see a huge range of patients, both children and adults, and are able to provide an instant cure for some patients. To me ENT is the most exciting specialty and encompasses a nice mix of both medicine and surgery
I really like that ENT has 50% surgery and 50% clinics and very brief ward rounds! We get to do exciting surgeries that extend beyond ENT and into surrounding areas like the brain. I have seen very interesting surgeries such as CSF leak repairs and free-flap reconstructions where tissue is taken from another part of the body and put it into the defect site/excision site bringing its blood supply along. We are often able to treat patients definitively as some may have only one problem which we are able to address and fix. Not all the patients that come through ENT are very sick.
I particularly enjoy working at Auckland City Hospital as all the regional ENT referrals come to us. I know that in Australia the ENT referrals go to many different hospitals meaning that the registrars have to spend hours driving between the hospitals to see their patients. I love living in Auckland and ADHB is particular has vastly improved in terms of their organisation and rapid responses to queries. The IT side of things is impressive; being able to have radiology on a system on the computers and scanning of notes makes life a lot easier. They are constantly trying to improve further which is great to see.
Realistically beyond work I don't have all that much spare time, however I do have a great family life with a wonderful husband and son. I get to take my son to swimming and soccer. Speaking to friends in equivalent business or commercial jobs, they also have to work long hours and you have to accept that it is a part of getting ahead in your career. ENT is a busy specialty and it does become challenging to have time to regularly socialise. In saying that, you need to take some holidays through your training - the onus is on you to take that break yourself. I got to take some time off last year and went to Fiji, we also get to attend conferences overseas, and in my parental leave break we lived overseas.
One of the main reasons I chose ENT as a specialty is because of the people I get to work with. They are awesome, tending to be relaxed, approachable and knowledgeable. Otolaryngologists have a good working/ lifestyle balance. We get together for social events as well as a journal club once a month. This year the annual Registrar conference is in Nelson and again it will be a balance between hard work and fun!
ENT is a great specialty to work in, however for any RMOs who wish to go into it I would definitely recommend talking to the registrars and SMOs who work in it to ensure it is for you. Explore all about it yourself and make sure you meet the requirements to get onto SET. These are listed on the College website ( www.surgeons.org ). Its beneficial to complete your own readings and study on it so you can impress the SMOs. I feel privileged to be training in such an exciting specialty.