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Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery Fellowship

Program Coordinator: Jenny Kesselring (jklesselring@siumed.edu)

Total Number of Positions Available: One

Please note: the current Head and Neck Fellowship training program will finish on November 7th 2014.  Additional fellowship offerings will be announced in the future.


Applicants must have completed a residency in Otolaryngology, General Surgery or Plastic Surgery. An Illinois medical license for trainees must be obtained prior to the fellowship year. Applicants should submit a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae, and 2 letters of reference. A personal onsite visit is encouraged. All interested US and Canadian fellowship applicants must be registered with the Match Program of the Advanced Training Council of The American Head and Neck Society to be considered for a position. Those applicants who are not eligible for the Match program may apply separately.

Goals and Objectives:

1. To prepare the fellow for an academic career in head and neck surgical oncology and develop a comprehensive knowledge of the field.

2. To provide case-based learning experiences to allow the fellow to fine tune his or her surgical skills to engage with confidence in all surgical aspects of the field.

3. To become an effective participant in the process of multidisciplinary treatment planning

4. To learn the nuances of conducting clinical research including an understanding of the rules and regulatory processes of the institutional review board.

5. To become familiar with the basic approaches in laboratory research and facilitate the relevance of novel observations to the clinical arena.

6. To serve as a role model for residents and medical students.

Teaching Staff:

Program Description


The head and neck oncologic surgery fellowship at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is co-sponsored by the Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and Simmons Cancer Institute. Within the institute, all head and neck cancer patients are managed by the Head and Neck Oncology Team, which is one of the 12 multidisciplinary cancer care teams. Participants include specialists from otolaryngology head and neck surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, and others. The referral pattern is quite broad and covers the downstate region of Illinois and its bordering states. The activities of the team are organized such that all new patients are evaluated by the entire team on each Tuesday of every week throughout the year. This multidisciplinary clinic begins with a morning session during which time all new patients are evaluated and presented to the team. Following this, a treatment planning conference is conducted between 12:00 and 1:00 PM. All new cancer patients are presented during which radiologic studies and pathology are reviewed by the appropriate specialists. At the end of this conference, new patients are then counseled by appropriate members of the multidisciplinary team regarding treatment options. The end result of this process is that all new patients are seen by the team and are discharged from the clinic with a comprehensive plan for further management. Note should be made that during this visit, the dietician, speech therapist, psycho-therapist, and patient navigator are also onsite for counseling. For patients who are entered into a clinical trial, there is a weekly review of their status done through a telephone conference call followed by a summary of each patient sent to each member of the team. Interdisciplinary surgical activities occur primarily among otolaryngologists head and neck surgeons, plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and thoracic surgeons.

When appropriate, these specialists attend treatment planning conferences for participation in the discussion and the management of patients. Neurosurgical input, as well as neuro-otology input, is primarily for patients with skull base tumors. Microvascular procedures are performed by head and neck surgeons and plastic surgeons. The spectrum of surgical procedures includes thyroid and parathyroid, trans-oral laser microsurgery, endoscopic sinus and skull base procedures, reconstructive surgery including free tissue transfer, lymphatic mapping with sentinel lymph node biopsy, upper aerodigestive tract and cutaneous resections, and laryngotracheal reconstructive surgery. Another important emphasis is clinical trials research and the use of non-surgical protocols.

There are active laboratory research collaborations among several principal investigators including

The major emphasis of clinical research is non-surgical therapeutic approaches for patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract. Additional clinical research is being conducted by Dr. Laura Rogers on the potential benefits of exercise and weight resistance training in head and neck cancer patients. Springfield, the capital of Illinois, has a delightful small city atmosphere with a full spectrum of entertainment options and fine restaurants. Inexpensive housing, a relatively low cost of living, and quick commutes all contribute to a pleasant lifestyle for trainees and their families.

Duties and Responsibilities of Trainees:

The fellow is awarded the rank of Instructor within the Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. This position allows the fellow to interface between the team of residents assigned to the head and neck service and the faculty members. The fellow is expected to pursue clinical, educational, and research activities. The 2 year program will prepare the individual for an academic career in head and neck surgical oncology. Throughout the training, 2 days of protected time each week are provided for collaborative and translational laboratory research with selected research faculty based at the Institute. Weekly clinical activities include a multidisciplinary clinic and treatment planning conference, and 2 days of surgery.

Accreditation Status:

The fellow will be provided a certificate of completion of the fellowship upon satisfactory achievement of required goals and objectives. In addition, the fellow would be expected to apply for accreditation and membership in the American College of Surgeons and the Advanced Training Council of the American Head and Neck Society.

Evaluation Process:

Fellows will be evaluated regularly during the two-year training period. These assessments have been designed to provide formative information the fellow can use to improve performance in the areas of medical knowledge, patient care, systems-based practice, professionalism, and interpersonal and communication skills. Fellows will be evaluated by faculty, staff, students, patients, and peers. The Fellow and Program Director will review the evaluations at the end of each year. A final summative evaluation will occur in the spring. Advancement to the next level of training will occur after faculty evaluation of the fellows’ progress is completed (June).