Education

What Is Gastroenterologist

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 3 minute read

Even though gastroenterology is the highest-paying medical speciality, don’t choose your specialty as a physician solely because of the money. Because of this, a third of gastroenterologists experience burnout, making it difficult for them to connect with their patients and provide compassionate treatment.

Prior to making the decision to become a gastroenterologist, you should have a better understanding of what it means to work in this field, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Despite the fact that all gastroenterologists focus on the digestive system in some capacity, their careers can vary greatly depending on where they work, what subspecialties they choose to focus on, how they approach their training, and what skills and aptitudes they have.

Having a particular interest in digestive health

Internal medicine includes gastroenterology as a subspecialty. Internists are medical professionals who specialize in internal medicine, which is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the internal system. Gastroenterologists are internal medicine doctors who specialize in diseases of the digestive system or their effects on it.

More than a dozen organs are included in the digestive system, which is responsible for processing nutrients taken in through food and drink and excreting waste. Gastroenterologists aren’t usually involved in oral health issues, which are typically handled by dentists. Urology and nephrology (the study of kidney function and disorders) are typically handled by specialists in urology and nephrology. The digestive tract, including the stomach, small and large intestines and the esophagus, gallbladder, liver and pancreas, rectum, anus and other parts, can be treated with these medications if necessary. Gastroenterologists can specialize in specific medical conditions or advanced gastrointestinal procedures, or they can treat the digestive system as a whole.

Diagnosis and treatment of digestive system disorders are often performed by gastroenterologists using the same procedure. When a gastroenterologist uses an endoscope to look inside a patient’s mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes (including surgery), this is known as an upper endoscopy. Endoscope equipment is used to examine the lower digestive tract during colonoscopies, which are commonly performed for routine cancer screening and for possible symptoms of colon cancer.

The American College of Physicians reported that highly trained gastroenterologists may even specialize in treating advanced liver disease and performing liver transplants.

Getting Ready for a Gastroenterology Career

Geriatricians, like doctors in other medical specialties, must undergo extensive educational and training. After completing your undergraduate studies, you will typically need to spend an additional four years pursuing a medical degree, such as an M.D. or an Osteopathic Medical Doctorate (D.O.). Once you’ve graduated from medical school, you’ll begin a three-year residency in internal medicine. General internists can be certified with this residency, but not gastroenterologists.

The American Medical Association says that in order to become a gastroenterologist, you must complete a fellowship of 36 months of additional training. In order to become a specialist in a particular disease or endoscopy procedure, you may need to spend an additional year in clinical practice or advanced training. A gastroenterologist is a long-term career choice, and one that requires a lot of dedication. To become a gastroenterologist, you’ll need to put in at least 14 years of study and training after earning your bachelor’s degree.

Gastroenterologists who excel in their field have a unique blend of technical proficiency and interpersonal grace. Compassion is essential when dealing with patients who may be experiencing physical pain or discomfort or who may be embarrassed by their gastrointestinal problems. You must be able to communicate effectively and professionally with all of the other healthcare professionals with whom you work on a daily basis, as well as with your patients. For endoscopies, colonoscopies, and other medical procedures to go smoothly and avoid complications like perforating the colon, good hand-eye coordination is essential.

Whether you work in a hospital, where you may be required to work overnight shifts and perform emergency surgeries, or in an office, where procedures and appointments are scheduled in advance, the typical day of a gastroenterologist is different.

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