The USC Head and Neck Fellowship Experience

The USC Head and Neck Fellowship is a 1-year fellowship beginning July 1 designed to cover the breadth of Head & Neck surgery including ablative, microvascular, skull base, robotic, cutaneous malignancies, and endocrine surgery. Fellows will work closely with faculty and residents as part of a multidisciplinary team to learn the comprehensive care of complex head and neck patients. Responsibility and independence will be graduated throughout the year as skills progress. The fellow will work with faculty in addition to leading residents through cases. This will allow the fellow to develop teaching skills and smoothly transition from trainee to attending when in practice.

Microvascular and reconstructive training will include approximately 100+ free flaps. This will be in addition to regional flaps and local reconstruction. Also, Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for oropharynx and supraglottic tumors will be an important part of the training experience to offer minimally invasive techniques as treatment evolves for oropharynx cancer patients. In addition, transoral laser techniques for early laryngeal cancers and open partial laryngectomies are an integral part of the larynx cancer treatment. Our fellow also will spend time with endocrine surgeons to develop expertise in thyroid surgery, parathyroid disorders, and complicated revision cases.

In addition to time with the department of otolaryngology, the fellow will work closely with medical oncology, radiation oncology, speech pathology, and neuroradiology as part of our multidisciplinary team. They will spend time in clinics and patient care for these medical subspecialties to understand the comprehensive care of these patients. The fellow will participate in our various tumor boards and discuss nuances of treatment and rehabilitation.

Fellowship Goals

At the completion of the fellowship, the fellow should have achieved the following goals:

  • Be competent in the management and treatment options for head and neck cancer patients
  • Be able to independently perform microvascular free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction
  • Be able to independently perform complex head and neck ablative procedures
  • Be able to independently work-up, manage, and perform benign and malignant thyroid and parathyroid disease surgery
  • Be proficient in the applications and performance of transoral robotic surgery (TORS)
  • Be able to independently perform the work-up and care for head and neck melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers including ablation, reconstruction, sentinel lymph node mapping, and nodal dissections.
  • Be able to develop a hypothesis-based research study from idea inception to publication


A publication-quality research project will be required during the year. The fellow will choose a faculty mentor and design a clinical research project together. Regular meetings with their research mentor will ensure adequate progress and guidance through the project. A 10 minute research presentation will be required after completion of the project on our research symposium day.

Didactics and Teaching

Fellows are expected to participate in the training and teaching of medical students and residents during the head and neck rotation. They will augment teaching at an affiliated hospital (Los Angeles General Medical Center (LAGMC)). The fellow will give one Departmental Grand Rounds lecture during the year.

Evaluation and Assessment

Fellows will meet regularly with the fellowship director to discuss the fellowship and address areas of concern. There will be formal evaluations quarterly. Fellows will have the opportunity to discuss and address their curriculum and fellowship experience at these formal meetings. The fellows will also receive written feedback from the faculty to ensure adequate progression of skills throughout the year. The fellow will provide feedback on the experience and provide insight into program development for future trainees during the final evaluation meeting.

Length of fellowship

A 12-month fellowship will be offered to applicants who have successfully completed an otolaryngology residency, passed all 3 stages of the USMLE (or equivalent as recognized by the state of California), are eligible for a California medical license and credentialing at Keck Medicine of USC.

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Application information

Applications, comprised of a letter of intent, CV and 2 letters of recommendation.
Please send inquiries and applications to Mark Swanson at