Residency Program

Penn State Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery residency training program is a comprehensive program, designed to train superb clinicians, skilled surgeons, and successful researchers. Our dedicated team of faculty educators strives to provide a curriculum and environment in which all residents can be successful in developing their clinical acumen and surgical judgment. Training involves the breadth of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, including head and neck oncology, pediatric otolaryngology, rhinology and skull-base surgery, facial plastics and reconstructive surgery (including microvascular free flap reconstruction), maxillofacial trauma, head and neck endocrine surgery, neurotology, and laryngology.

Clinical and surgical experience is gained primarily at our state of the art tertiary referral hospital, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical, which includes inpatient and outpatient services. Additional exposures occur at two ambulatory surgery centers and satellite outpatient offices.

The goal of the program is to train Otolaryngologists so they are comfortable in both the academic and private practice settings. Residents are trained in the basic science fundamentals and their application to clinical medicine via core didactics and clinical conferences. A graduated level of resident responsibility and surgical complexity is a keystone of the program. The apprenticeship model of close faculty-resident mentorship relationships is utilized to maximize development of surgical skills in all subspecialty materials. Traditionally, many of our graduates go on to top-tier fellowship training and pursue academic careers, while those pursuing private practice are well rounded capable to practice in a comprehensive fashion.

Our core curriculum of scheduled, protected daily education sessions is augmented by multiple additional courses. A structured temporal bone course is provided via lecture and temporal bone dissection in our own dedicated temporal bone laboratory. A facial trauma and microvascular course, with both anatomic and live animal models, are utilized throughout the year. Outside educational opportunities are provided by division-sponsored academic courses. The course opportunities include a Basic Science course, the AAOA Basic course, AO trauma courses, as well as other courses as they become available.

Clinical and basic science research plays an important role in the training of our residents, regardless of their ultimate career goals. All residents have a dedicated three-month research block during their PGY-3 year.  However, residents have active clinical projects throughout their training, with goals for publications each year.  Submissions to our state and national meetings are encouraged, and funding for travel is provided.

Our five-year ACGME-approved training residency is approved to maintain ten residency positions, two in each training year. The PGY-1 year is performed at our primary institution, including rotations of six months in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, and one month on Surgical ICU, Ophthalmology/Oculoplastics, Neurosurgery, Anesthesia, Pediatric Surgery, and General Surgical. The PGY-2 to PGY-5 years involves a strong surgical training experience across the spectrum of our specialty, with an emphasis on balanced exposure. The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital are the focal points of the clinical experience. These freestanding facilities are connected to our Penn State Cancer Center and well as our primary outpatient clinic setting. An on-campus ambulatory surgery center, along with a private community surgi-center, provides other setting for surgical experience building.

Two educational tracks are currently available within the program. The Clinical Track involves the 5-years of clinical training within the specialty, with an ongoing expectation of academic productivity (e.g. research and publications), including the PGY-3 dedicated research block for three-months. The research track was developed to foster the development of residents with an interest in academic and surgeon-scientist careers.  The residents in this track spend the initial year after selection in the research activities, primarily through the Penn State Institute of Personalized Medicine and genomics program.  The second year then begins the traditional clinical 5-year track pattern.

Resident Research Curriculum

The goal of our program is to train a new generation of researchers and leaders in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, who will eventually assume leadership roles and further the continued development of our specialties. In particular, we plan to expand the training experience so that residents become not only proficient as clinicians and consultants but also well versed in the emerging genomic tools of personalized medicine.

Resident Research Program

Resident Research program at Penn State College of Medicine is a collaborative effort between the Department of Surgery and Institute of Personalized Medicine. The programs offers in depth exposure and experience in the basic, translational and clinical research in the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck and thyroid malignancies, as well as other related conditions usually seen by an Otolaryngologist Head and neck surgeon. The Training Program will be 1 year in length to take place prior to entrance into PGY 1 of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery residency.

Support Systems, Mentoring, and Evaluations

All aspects of the Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Resident Research program training are carefully monitored and evaluated. A cornerstone of the evaluation process for residents is faculty feedback and this is in face-to-face meetings at the end of each quarter. These meetings are scheduled by the program coordinator to be certain that they occur. Semi-annual and Annual Meetings, as well as Final (Summative) Evaluations are held with the Program Director where all evaluation methods are reviewed.

Residents will be given an “Advisor” at the time they enter the program to help navigate their initial few months and to assist in networking for the choice of a research. Once they identify a research mentor and project they are asked to assemble a Research Advisory Committee to oversee the work and monitor progress, and to advise the mentor and mentee as well as program leadership. Each year, residents formally present their research at a Research Exchange to a panel of faculty and their peers, and receive a composite evaluation for the quality of the work, presentation skills, etc.

Infrastructure and Support

Penn State College of Medicine and the sponsoring departments for this program provide exceptional clinical and scientific resources for this program and a rich environment for the training of specialists in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Resources and faculty from Penn State College of Medicine, Department of Surgery and the Institute of Personalized Medicine are all involved in the executive of this training program.


The administration for the program consists of Johnathan McGinn, M.D., who serves as the Residency Program Director, is ultimately responsible for all administrative aspects of the program. Directors of the Institute of Personalized Medicine James Broach, Ph.D. and Glen Gerhart, M.D., are responsible for the Mentoring Program, Research Advisory Committee structure, and oversight of residency research, and David Goldenberg, M.D., Chief of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery is responsible for the clinical and translational aspects of head and neck oncology research. Beth Shultz, serves as the Residency Program Administrator and is responsible for operations and coordination of resident activities as well as responsibility for financial matters and coordination of faculty and resident schedules.

Office and lab space

Our Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Research Resident will be assigned individual desk and research bench space and resources throughout their year of training. These are located in the Institute of Personalized medicine, in the biomedical research building at the Penn State College of Medicine. The Institute encompasses 5,000 sq. ft. of newly renovated laboratory space, equipped with all the instrumentation necessary for state-of-the-art genomic studies. These include several Next Gen sequencers (an Illumina HiSeq 2500, an Ion Proton, an Illumina MiSeq), as well as all of the support equipment for highly parallel processing of samples for analysis, including a Qiagen Symphony, a Covaris multi-sample sonicator, an Apollo library preparation robot and all the support equipment for nucleic acid quantification and evaluation. The Resident will have access to all of these instruments and will be expected to become well versed in the preparation of libraries and execution of next gen sequencing protocols.

Training in Genomics

The Resident will have extensive exposure to and training in genomic medicine. Residents will have access to formal coursework in analysis of large genomic data sets. One such course, Applied Bio-informatics, is designed to introduce students to the various applications of high-­- throughput sequencing including: chip req, RNA-­-Seq, SNP calling, metagenomics, denovo assembly and others. The course material concentrates on presenting complete data analysis scenarios for each of these domains of applications and introduces students to a wide variety of existing tools and techniques. In addition, the Institute runs informal training sessions in various aspects of genomic analysis under the tutelage of members of the Institute’s bio-informatics staff, a group of four Ph.D. level bio-informaticists and their affiliated graduate students, post docs and staff.

In addition to the formal training, residents will be exposed regularly to ongoing research within the Institute. Members associated with the Institute meet for two regularly scheduled hour long meetings each week, one devoted to formal updates on each of the two dozen or so collaborative projects ongoing in the Institute and one devoted to technical aspects of genomic analysis. The Institute also hosts a biweekly Next Gen Sequencing meeting, in which investigators share tips, insights and internal and external advances in sequencing techniques, and a biweekly IPM Science meeting, at which clinicians from across the Medical Center describe clinical settings and diseases in which genomics might play a role.

Beyond attending the Institute sponsored sessions, residents will be expected to participate in weekly scientific group meeting of his or her research mentor. Both Dr. Broach and Dr. Gerhard have weekly two hour group meetings in which the members of the group present their research progress on a regular basis and explore the literature recently published on topics related to the ongoing research. Finally, residents will be expected to attend the monthly research meeting within the Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.