How to Become Gastroenterologist

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Gastroenterology is a medical discipline that is concerned with the digestive system or the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and related conditions and diseases. Gastroenterologists are licensed physicians that are specialists in the field. They focus on preventing, treating, and maintaining a variety of conditions affecting the digestive system.

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Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a gastroenterologist do?

Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat many different medical conditions that affect the stomach, intestines, liver, esophagus, gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, and pancreas. The conditions they are treat are related to how the body digests food. The conditions include acid reflux disease, ulcers, hemorrhoids, hernias, hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, polyps, liver disease, cancer, and colitis. They assess a patient’s symptoms and perform a variety of diagnostic tests such are the colonoscopy and endoscopy. They also give patients advice on how to prevent certain conditions. Some gastroenterologists specialize in a specific area such as GI radiology, GI oncology, gastric medicine, and hepatobiliary.

What kind of training does a gastroenterologist need?

Gastroenterologists must complete undergraduate education, medical school, and residency training in internal medicine. Most prospective gastroenterologists complete a bachelor degree in a science field and then pursue medical school to earn the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Medical school includes intensive instruction and clinical rotations in all the major disciplines of medicine. Residency training prepares students for a specialty in internal medicine. Many gastroenterologists complete fellowships in gastroenterology after completion of their residency program. They learn to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions and diseases during the fellowship. Gastroenterologists must become licensed to practice. They must also become board certified from the American Board of Internal Medicine. They can also gain certification from the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.

What are the prospects for a career as a gastroenterologist?

Employment for all physicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The constant growth of specialty medical care will drive job growth.

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

How much do gastroenterologists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of gastroenterologists earn annual salaries between $251,026 and $396,450. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $467,962 (2).

A career as a gastroenterologist is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in treating patients with conditions of the digestive system. Gastroenterologists must have a solid understanding of how the human body digest food, absorbs nutrients, and removes waste. Motivation, manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, commitment, and determination are desirable characteristics. Gastroenterologists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to put patients at ease. They must be able to work under stress and pressure and make quick decisions in emergency situations.

Joshua T Osborne

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