How to Become an Endocrinologist

How to Become an Endocrinologist

Endocrinology is a medical discipline that deals with conditions of the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid, pituitary, adrenals, testes, ovaries, and pancreas. All of the organs in the endocrine system produce hormones. Endocrinologists are medical doctors that specialize in endocrinology. They diagnose and treat patients with many different conditions affecting the endocrine system.

What does an endocrinologist do?

Endocrinologists diagnose, treat, and manage a variety of conditions and disease of the endocrine systems such as hyperthyroidism, metabolic syndrome, hormone imbalances, diabetes, and cancers of the endocrine glands. They evaluate patients’ symptoms and develop effective treatment plans. They often perform many different diagnostic tests to assist in diagnosis and the evaluation of treatment. They also counsel patients on lifestyle changes that can improve conditions such as diet modification, exercise, and hygiene. Many endocrinologists are also involved in clinical research to gain a better understanding of the endocrine system and to assist in the development of better treatment options.

What kind of training does an endocrinologist need?

Endocrinologists must complete undergraduate education, medical school, and residencies and internships. They must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be admitted into medical school. Medical school combines intensive instruction and clinical rotations in all major medical disciplines. After medical school, prospective endocrinologists complete residencies in internal medicine with specialization in endocrinology. They learn how to diagnose and treat a variety of hormone conditions. Many endocrinologists complete fellowships to sub-specialize in specific areas such as pediatric, adult, and reproductive endocrinology. Endocrinologists must be licensed to practice. Licensing requirements include graduating from an accredited medical school, completing graduate medical training, and passing an examination. Endocrinologists must also become board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

What are the prospects for a career as an endocrinologist?

Employment of all physicians and surgeons is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population and increased incidence of obesity and diabetes will drive job growth of endocrinologists.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for endocrinologists with specialties and extensive experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace endocrinologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do endocrinologists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of endocrinologists earn annual salaries between $165,452 and $213,327. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $237,599 (2).

A career as an endocrinologist is an excellent choice for individuals interested in providing care to patients with conditions of the endocrine system. Endocrinologists must have a strong desire to serve patients and have good bedside manner. Self-motivation, emotional stability, compassion, and determination are essential characteristics. Endocrinologists must have excellent communication skills and be able to interact with a variety of patients and other medical personnel. They must be able to work long hours under stress and pressure and make quick decisions in emergency situations.

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