University of Ottawa - Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery - Ottawa


Program Director

Dr. Hussain Alsaffar


Program Director/Program Administrator

Gabrielle St-Jean Savoie

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The University of Ottawa training program in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery is a five year residency program. The program is fully accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and has been in existence for over 25 years.

This Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery program at the University of Ottawa consists of 1 year of Surgical Foundations training followed by 4 years of specialty training at University of Ottawa teaching hospitals.

  • Residency in a dynamic environment with faculty engaged in medical education

  • Very busy clinical service at all sites of training with high surgical volumes

  • All aspects of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery are represented including cochlear implantation, complex pediatric and adult airway management, an oncology robotics program, a busy base of skull program

  • Protected academic half days with a strong curriculum

  • Protected research time

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The program’s first year consists of an introductory rotations in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. During this initial rotation residents rotate at all of our Department’s sites. This allows residents to become familiar with all team members and faculty. This is followed by 10 blocks in both surgical and nonsurgical disciplines related to our specialty and another 3 in ENT. All of these rotations comply with the guidelines of the subspecialty committee in Otolaryngology-Head &Neck Surgery at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. These specialties include ICU, General Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Anesthesiology, Thoracics, Emergency and Palliative Care.

The 2nd year starts with a senior rotation in the ICU. This rotation allows the residents to develop certain independence in the management of sick patients as they must act as the senior call resident for their unit. Following this rotation, the residents begin in earnest their full time training within the specialty of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery. This initial year includes rotations at all major teaching hospitals in the role of the junior resident. The goal of the year is to allow each resident the ability to develop their basic knowledge and skills relating to the specialty.

The 3rd year is marked by the beginning of subspecialty rotations. During this year the residents also participate in a community rotation in the location of their choosing. This allows them to see the full potential of a community practice in Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery in Canada. The residents also participate in their first elective rotation.

In the 4th year the residents rotate in all subspecialties with the University of Ottawa system. They are gaining a significant amount of surgical independence through the process. During this year the residents also have two more elective rotations within the specialty. The 4th year is also marked as it is the year residents take on the responsibilities of Chief residents.

In the final year of residency training the residents have three months of training in Head & Neck Oncology, Rhinology and Otology-Neurotology and a one month in both Facial Plastic surgery and pediatric otolaryngology. During their final year of training residents are removed from the night time call schedule to allow them to have increased study time, and will resume call duties after their exam.

Residents will be training in two major academic health science centres affiliated with the University of Ottawa. The Ottawa Hospital is one of the biggest academic health science centres in Canada and all adult patients are seen at one of two main campuses: General campus and Civic campus. The residents also go to the Riverside campus in which day care procedures are performed. The pediatric teaching centre is the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). All aspects of pediatric care in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery are performed at this site. During their residency, residents will spend most of their time in one of the Ottawa Hospital campuses and 8 months at CHEO.

The academic program of the residency program consists of a three year subspecialty curriculum which covers all aspects of training in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. The academic half day is on Friday mornings and the sessions are completely faculty driven. The program also is highlighted by block examinations to help residents assess their progress in knowledge acquisition and by multiple sessions on non medical expert topics of importance to residents in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Research is also a significant portion of the residency program. A three month research block is offered to all residents to enable them to participate and complete projects. This time can be taken in either the PGY-3 or PGY-4 years and can be broken up. All projects are completed with guidance from a departmental faculty member. Stipends are given to all residents for presentations of projects at meetings.

Residents in the program also participate in various outreach programs. The Baffin Island program is a Departmental initiative in which services are offered to the residents of Nunavut. Four annual trips to Iqaluit are planned during which a resident and one faculty member travel to Iqaluit for one week to treat patients suffering from issues relating to the specialty. The program also participates in the CanHear Uganda initiative in which a yearly trip of specialists to Kampala, Uganda not only treats patients but also teaches surgical skills to local residents and faculty. Finally, the department conducts an annual head and neck cancer screening day at Ottawa homeless shelters. Otolaryngology residents and staff travel to the shelters to perform screening head and neck physical exams for this high risk population with low access to healthcare.

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