The Laryngologist

You are an academic genius, the valedictorian of your high school class. There you stand on the commencement stage, for your parents, extended family, friends, teachers, the entire student body of your school, and a whole bunch of strangers. You deliver the valedictory speech, to sum up the essence of your graduating class, but you save something for yourself at the last of it. Everyone wants to know what you are going to do, you with the best grades and the hopes of everyone in your town riding on your shoulders. So, at the end of your speech, after they applaud for you and what you said, you say this, “By the way, I am going to be a Laryngologist!” There it is! You said it. Confidently, you stride off the stage, leaving everyone to wonder. “What?”

A laryngologist is a physician who specializes in protecting the human voice. Professional singers and speakers tend to employ them to regularly examine their larynx, an organ through which air passes to and from the lungs. This is the part of the human body that makes sound. Some folks call it the voice box. Both volume and pitch of your voice are controlled here. Given that a laryngologist is a physician who protects health, don’t confuse them with a voice (or vocal) coach, who is a music teacher that specializes in techniques for strengthening your voice to sing better, or differently.

Where do you go to college to learn to be a laryngologist? Nowhere, that I can find. Most students who want to be doctors major in biology, and when they receive a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a good academic standing, they compete to enter a reputable medical school. After four or more years to complete medical school, you would become a licensed doctor, upon which you enter three or more years in residency at a hospital (where you prove your medical skills in the presence of already proven doctors). Upon completing residency, you either enter private practice as a general physician, or you begin specialized medical training.

Laryngology is not a standalone medical field. Instead, it is grouped within the “Ear, Nose, and Throat” (ENT) specialty. Most physicians retain the ENT title in order to maximize their number of patients. Those who wish to concentrate on the larynx might choose a title that sounds more important than laryngologist, such as: Voice Surgeon, Phonosurgeon, or Phoniatrist. Think about that. As you ended your valedictorian speech, you might have told everyone that you intend to become a Voice Surgeon. For any of the other three titles, a heckler might have shouted, “Oh Yeah? Spell it!” #TAG1writer.

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