Advanced Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Fellowship

General Information

The Department of Head and Neck Surgery at MD Anderson is accepting applications for fellowship training in head and neck surgical oncology. Fellows are trained as academic head and neck surgeons who will provide leadership in the clinical practice and science of head and neck surgical oncology. The Department of Head and Neck Surgery annually examines more than 1,600 new patients with head and neck tumors, thus providing fellows with a wealth of clinical experience. Positions are funded and include one-, two- and three-year fellowships. All programs have been reviewed and approved by the Advanced Training Council of the American Head and Neck Society.

Primary Goals

  • To train individuals to provide state-of-the-art interdisciplinary care for patients with head and neck cancer
  • To develop leaders in the field of head and neck oncologic surgery
  • To provide a rigorous academic experience in which fellows can participate in clinical, translational or basic science research under the guidance of experienced mentors, with the ultimate goal of attaining support for future research endeavors upon the completion of training

Each fellow participates in the care of approximately 350 newly referred patients annually. Fellows actively participate with staff in all decisions related to the treatment and rehabilitation of the head and neck surgical patients. Each fellow’s operative responsibility is assigned commensurate with his or her ability. Surgeons in residency and medical students are also assigned to teams, giving fellows in head and neck surgery the opportunity to teach. Fellows are given exposure to the Skull Base Tumor Program, led by experienced academic surgeons from the departments of head and neck surgery and neurosurgery.

The educational program is well organized and structured, with two hours of didactic instruction provided weekly by the faculty. Applied surgical anatomy is included in these lectures. The Morbidity and Mortality Conferences is held every wo months, and formal, in-depth clinicopathologic discussions are scheduled every six weeks. Fellows are required to participate in the monthly Clinical and Basic Science Journal Club and to attend Department of Head and Neck Surgery research meetings. Weekly attending rounds are conducted by the faculty member on call and cover in-depth patient discussions or review of a topic related to patient management. The weekly Patient Planning Conference serves as a forum for new-patient presentations and multidisciplinary treatment planning and patient disposition.

A completed project, either in clinical or basic science research, is required of each fellow, and a written paper suitable for publication is expected before a certificate from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is issued.

Positions Offered

  • The one-year fellowship involves clinical training that emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to the management of head and neck cancer. Surgical instruction involves all aspects of head and neck surgical oncology, including cranial base surgery
  • The two-year fellowship provides one year of dedicated basic science, translational or clinical research and one year of clinical training
  • The three-year fellowship provides two years of research and one year of clinical training

Combined Clinical/ Research Pathways

Recognizing that trainees have different backgrounds, interests and training in research, as well as different career goals, the advanced head and neck surgical oncology fellowship is offered through different research training pathways represented by the Clinical Investigator Pathway and the Physician-Scientist Pathway. These pathways differ in length and content. One of the major objectives of the research component of the fellowship is to help prepare individuals for transition to a faculty position in which they will be able to pursue investigative activities and compete for funding from the NIH and other funding agencies.

Clinical Investigator Pathway

This program enables individuals interested in clinically based research to acquire the necessary didactic background and practical experience in their specific area of interest. A 12- to 24-month didactic program including biostatistics, clinical trial design and other relevant subjects is tailored to meet the individual fellow's needs and is complemented with mentored research opportunities in one or more of the following areas: clinical trial design, quality-of-life outcomes studies, epidemiology/ molecular epidemiology and biomarker analysis of human blood/tissue specimens.

Physician-Scientist Pathway

This mentored laboratory research program benefits individuals interested in translational or basic science investigations, involving investigators from within or outside the department. This pathway is supported by an NIH-awarded T32 training grant and offers interested applicants a 12- or 24- month program based in the laboratory.

Selection Process

Candidates for the Advanced Head and Neck Surgery Fellowship must have completed a residency program in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, general surgery or plastic surgery. The duration of such a residency program must be equivalent to that required to become, at a minimum, chief resident and, preferably, the candidate should have attained board eligibility. Candidates must have completed at least the PGY 5 level of surgical education. All candidates must be licensed in the state of Texas or be eligible for an institutional premit to practice medicine.

Participants are selected through a process that involves review of a written application, including letters of reference from past mentors and program directors and a personal interview. Final selections are made at least six months before the scheduled starting date.

To be considered for a two- or three-year fellowship, applicants must be registered with the match program of the Advanced Training Council for Approval of Training in Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery (sponsored by The American Head and Neck Society). All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or veteran status.

Requests to register for the Match Program should be sent to:

Aaron Goodman
Coordinator, Advanced Training Council
American Head & Neck Society
11300 W. Olympic Boulevard, #600
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Curricula vitae and requests for applications should be sent to:

Amy C. Hessel, M.D.
Director, Fellowship Program
Department of Head and Neck Surgery
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 1445
Houston, TX 77030-4009