What is a gastroenterologist?
This is the physician who specializes in treating your digestive system which consists of your stomach, pancreas, intestines, colon, rectum, bile ducts, esophagus, liver, and gallbladder. They will treat and prevent the occurrence of many different digestive conditions such as heartburn or acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, colon polyps, pancreatitis, peptic ulcers, hepatitis, gallstones, diseases of the bile tract, colitis, etc.
Job description of a gastroenterologist
This is a medical specialist who has the job to recognize, diagnosis, and then treat various medical conditions of your digestive system. As this is a large and very important system in your body the job responsibilities of a gastroenterologist are varied. When you become a gastroenterologist you will still have many of the duties that a regular medical physician has along with the duties of a physician in this highly specialized field. A gastroenterologist will have extensive knowledge about how food and nutrients move through your body which is very important for them to know in order to be able to correctly diagnosis and treat medical conditions of the digestive system. Many times a gastroenterologist will be in charge of a team of other physician assistants or nurse practitioners so it is important that you are able to work well with other people along with being a good leader. Most of the patients that see a gastroenterologist are referred to them by their own family physicians whenever this is a potential problem with their digestive tract. In this field a gastroenterologist must also be able to perform various diagnostic tests along with having the ability to read and interpret them in order to decide on the method of treatment. When doing diagnostic tests they will also have to use specialized tools. If you decide to specialize as a Pediatric or Interventional Gastroenterologist the job description will be slightly different but they will do basically the same thing as a regular gastroenterologist would do.
If you decide to specialize and become an interventional gastroenterologist you would perform surgeries in patients that are critically ill along with prescribing medications. If you became a pediatric gastroenterologist you would diagnose and treat medical conditions in infants, children, and teen of their digestive tract.
How to become a gastroenterologist?
To become a gastroenterologist will involve many years of college and specialized training which includes knowing how to use an endoscope. This is an instrument in which you would use a thin long tube that has a tiny camera and a light on the end. It is maneuvered around in your body so the gastroenterologist can get an up-close and clear view of your internal organs along with using it for several different medical procedures like getting a biopsy to test for cancer, to remove polyps in your colon, to help fix internal bleeding problems, etc. But before you can get that specialized training you need to become a board certified gastroenterologist.
As with most all medical careers if you know you are going into the medical field you should take all the science and math classes you can while in high school. There are many different steps that you must climb before you get your degree. Here are the steps you must climb.
- Although you must have an undergraduate, or Bachelor’s, degree to get into medical school there is no special requirements that you have to major in any specific field but there are certain prerequisite classes that you must take which include organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, biology, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and English.
- While working on your Bachelor’s degree, usually during your junior year, it will be time to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to even be considered for admission to medical school. Each medical college program will define its own minimum score requirements in order to get into their medical program.
- Going to medical school takes four years to get your Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or Doctor of Medicine (M.D). During the first two years you will usually focus on laboratory and classroom work in medical topics like pharmacology, medical ethics, anatomy and physiology, etc and science classes. The last two years will consist of clinical rotations which is the time you will get some hands-on training in different medical specialties.
- In order to practice you will have to pass the medical licensing examinations. The U.S. Medical Licensing Examination is administered by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners. The test is a three step exam and will test the student’s understanding skills, principles, and concepts that are specific to that particular medical profession. There may be other licensing requirements that other states require.
- Once you have finished medical school there are 2-3 years of residency training in internal medicine to give the student an in-depth experience in the internal workings of the body. This is done to prepare them for the advanced training that is needed to become a gastroenterologist. During this time students will also complete clinical rotations in the different sub-specialties of internal medicine.
- The final step in training is to complete a 3 year fellowship which will include 18 months of experience in patient care. You will also having training in a variety of gastrointestinal and hepatic diseases due to a consortium of the major four gastrointestinal medicine societies which have guidelines established that tells students what is required to get this training. This same consortium will also require you to be a part of the long-term management of different patients with different diseases of the gastrointestinal system.
- Being board certified is not a requirement but being board certified is a good way to advance your career in gastroenterology. Being board certified is done by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Before you can become board certified in gastroenterology you must first become board certified in internal medicine. To become board certified in gastroenterology you have to pass the Gastroenterology Certification exam along with holding a license that is current and states you are licensed to practice medicine. A gastroenterologist can also receive certification by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.
In addition a person who has decided on a career as a gastroenterologist should also have strong leadership and communication skills, have patience and empathy, problem solving skills, and the ability to pay attention to detail.
Once you become a board certified licensed gastroenterologist you will be required to continue your education in order to renew your certification and license. To do this they can take advanced courses in subjects like gastrointestinal oncology, nutrition/obesity, and esophageal disease.
Work environment and schedule
As stated a gastroenterologist gets most of his patients referred to them from the patient’s private physician. This basically means that the patient may already be experiencing some type of problem in their digestive system so it is the gastroenterologist’s job is to figure out exactly what the problem is. They will usually perform tests along with doing procedures such as colonoscopies and endoscopies to find out what is the cause of the patient’s problem. Once the correct diagnosis is made the gastroenterologist will help to improve their overall digestive health by prescribing medicine, having them change their diet, etc.
In addition to having their own practice they may also work in clinics, in a group practice, or in hospitals. If they work in hospitals it is a possibility that they could be on call in case an emergency case came in needing a gastroenterologist to fix a digestive problem by doing surgery. If they have their own private practice or work in a group practice they will generally work 4-5 days a week and often work more than 40 hours spread out over the days they work. On a typical day a gastroenterologist will see 20-25 patients which can include doing procedures and consultations. If they have a patient in the hospital they will also have to do hospital rounds. Most of the time they will spend their time between the exam rooms seeing patients, recording the patient’s complaints, diagnosis, any tests done, procedures if any, and what the treatment is in a patient’s chart, and physical exams on the patient.
There are also some gastroenterologists who see patients on certain days during the week and have surgeries scheduled on the other days. It is a very detail-oriented job which at times can be stressful so you need to have a calming demeanor to help their patients through procedures that at times can be difficult.
Pros and cons of being a gastroenterology
This area of healthcare expertise will provide you with some top advantages and you’ll get various opportunities of work to benefit from and find that balance that you need in the line of gastroenterology. If your dream is to work in the area of gastroenterology, you should be aware that to fulfill this dream you’ll have to study a lot. Also, you need to have all the education that is needed to be able to practice. First, you’ll require a Bachelor’s diploma and the running on this path starts early with graduating from high-school.
To enter to a graduate school is not so difficult, and you don’t need a pre-med major like many will add. Still, you need to fulfill the prerequisites that are needed for the school that you’ve enrolled in. You can continue on this path by enrolling to a medical school, but first you’ll need to study to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Then, finally you need to graduate and move on, and you’ll need to earn a necessary minimum score for the school you belong to.
The process of you working in gastroenterology will not end here. You’ll still need to finish the medical school that can last for four years, and then complete a residency in internal medicine of 2 to 3 years. Then, the final step will be to have a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology. The good part is that you don’t have to be board certified to work in this area of gastroenterology, but you’ll still need to own a medical license in the state of your practice.
With other words, the process of study is long, and many of these programs will be costly. So, you’ll probably have to loan money and at the end of your years of education you’ll have a debt to pay.
You’ll need as well to possess interpersonal skills, to easily empathize with the patients and be honest, have integrity and many other skills. Another pro is that you’ll be there helping people, and it’s a very rewarding job and at the same time you’ll never get wearied with your job and this career.
The cons in this job are related with the job itself and the environment that many times are stressful. The pressure is due to having to switch between tasks and having to adapt to all the changes that develop on a daily basis.
Gastroenterologist Job Growth
Many gastroenterologists based on some surveys present a great job satisfaction in this field and enjoyable work reviews. This based career is very pleasant because many of these professionals like the combination that is offered in an office: treating the patients as well as various performed procedures. The procedures that are diagnostic or therapeutic can be taken depending on the working site of the gastroenterologist within the area of a hospital, endoscopy suite or a surgical center.
According to the BLS else known as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the next ten years or so there is a job growth projection for all the Physicians and Surgeons, including the gastroenterologists that has a job growth rate projected at 18%. Considered to be faster than the average for all job occupations. There will regularly be a huge number of demanding in this field due to the healthcare that it provides of combating gastrointestinal disorders and illnesses.
This is a specialized type of medical profession so the average salary in the United States can be very high but there are many factors that also figure into the actual salary a gastroenterologist might make. Some of the factors include how many years they have been practicing, the city and state where they are practicing, their specialization if any, if they are working in a private or public sector, if they are working in a hospital, have their own practice or in a group practice, etc. There are also many benefits that can be included in their salary package such as health care benefits, vacation days, sick days, personal days, paid holidays, 401K, pension, social security, etc. If the gastroenterologist is “self-employed” they do not have all these benefits but have expenses instead like paying staff, paying rent on the building where their practice is, malpractice insurance, office furniture and equipment, etc.
A gastroenterologist who works in a hospital or clinic has a yearly salary that averages $124,800. If a gastroenterologist has their own practice their yearly salary averages $205,970. Many times what the average yearly salary will be for a gastroenterologist in private practice will depend on what they are charging their patients so the yearly gastroenterologist salary in this case would vary on how many patients they have, what procedures are done, are the patient’s cash paying, state insurance, or private insurance. According to research done the lowest yearly salary for a gastroenterologist averaged $90,720 and the highest yearly salary averaged $590,000. The best paying state for a gastroenterologist to work in has a yearly amount that averaged $234,600 and that state is Mississippi. The salaries of gastroenterologists have appeared to have grown over the last 10 years more consistently than any other specialty in the medical field. To ensure that you are going to be on the receiving end of a higher salary make sure that while in college that you specialize such as becoming a Pediatric Gastroenterologist or a Interventional Gastroenterologist.
Salary of a gastroenterologist in 2015
The gastroenterology area will allow you to gain more money. The salary will depend on the number of demands that you receive such as patients visits, the years of experience, the facility in which you are working and the geographical location. A professional working in this area with two years of experience can earn a salary that can reach $267,000 per year. A gastroenterology specialist with four years of experience will earn a salary that will encompass $348,010 per year. Benefits also come, and many of these professionals will benefit from paid vacations, medical coverage, and sick days.
With the number of demanding growing and with the opportunity of careers being found in many facilities, gastroenterology has a clear passage for the year 2015. The salaries will continue to grow due to the numbers of factors mentioned earlier.
Gastroenterologist Salary in 2016
In the U.S, the income of a Gastroenterologist for the year 2016 is presented as having great figures. The median income of these professionals is estimated to be at around $297,592 per year. The salary is mainly influenced based on several major factor that impacts this group. In this field the major factor that affects the earnings is the demographic factor- geographical location followed by the career length. Other factors that affect the income are the type of employment as well as the years of experience in the field.
The starting salary in this branch is estimated to be at around $150,713 per year, and it can climb up at $487,254 per year. With this salary are added by some employers’ bonuses that can climb up to $79,191 and profit sharing that is usually estimated at $32,510 per year.
Each state and city offer separate payments for gastroenterologists. For instance in Florida, more exactly in Jacksonville, the job of a gastroenterologist can bring up incomes that have a median average that is comprised between $290,329 per year and up to $406,086 per year. In Escambia Columbia, Florida the incomes of these professionals are estimated at a yearly average that is usually comprised between $92,804 per year and up to $139,206 per year.
These differences in the earnings are mainly recorded due to the population and the number of denuding as well as the established competitiveness on the business market. According to the educational level, Physicians that have earned a certification in Gastroenterology from the American Board of Internal Medicine can expect to take home incomes that are usually estimated between $183,127 per year and up to $403,367 per year. Those who have an MD degree or else known as a Doctor of Medicine degree can expect to take home estimated earnings that range between $120,673 per year and up to $502,446 per year.
The income varies as well according to the type of employment. For instance gastroenterologists that are working in healthcare organizations, have the highest incomes that reach at around $434,010 per year, while those that are hired in solo practices take home an estimated income of around $340,010 per year. Gastroenterologists that found work in academic settings can expect to take home an estimated income that reaches around $236,010 per year.
Gastroenterologist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
The way that a gastroenterologist’s salary is based in Australia is per consultant which averages AU $120,000. This does not include any procedures that they have done, any tests run, etc. If they have a private practice then they would get paid for every consultation but if they work for a group practice the consultations that are done each day will be divided between the numbers of gastroenterologists that are in the practice.
In Canada the average yearly salary for a gastroenterologist is $208,800. In the UK, as with many other medical professions there, what a gastroenterologist makes on average each year is based on what their age is. If you are in your twenties, your average yearly salary would be $82,500. If you are in your thirties your average yearly salary jumps to $107,800. If you are in your forties and fifties your average yearly salary would be $127,600.
Conclusion on gastroenterologist salary
Gastroenterology is a job that at times can be stressful at times. When you look at everything and see that a gastroenterologist just getting his license and starting to practice can make over $100,000 yearly on average and within three years you can have a yearly salary on average of $350,000 it is a lucrative career choice but what you will make depends on many factors.
- First Published Date: 7 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016