How to Become a Gastroenterologist – Introduction
How to become a gastroenterologist? If you are interested in medical studies related to the digestive system, you might be wondering the same.
A gastroenterologist doctor specializes in treating digestive system diseases, including the intestines, esophagus, colon, and pancreas. Some gastroenterologists also practice hepatology, a sub-discipline of gastroenterology that deals with diseases of the liver.
A gastroenterologist can work independently or as part of a group practice. They usually work in clean and well-lit environments.
However, when working with physicians, it can take long or irregular hours. They treat everything from hepatitis C to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Let’s learn more about starting a career as a gastroenterologist.
How to Become a Gastroenterologist? – Overview
Good digestive health is a must for nutrient absorption, immune function, intestinal motility, and a balanced community of micro-organisms. The human digestive tract is complex, made up of several parts and individual organs. These organs are responsible for processing and absorbing nutrients and food for the body.
A gastroenterologist treats various types of conditions that include both rare diseases and common conditions. Some of the common conditions that a gastroenterologist come across include:
- Acid reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Celiac disease
- Chron’s disease and Colitis
- Liver disease
- Colon cancer
Gastroenterologists recommend various treatments from medication to nutrition therapy or surgery, depending on the patient’s diagnosis.
Gastroenterologists perform tests like endoscopies and colonoscopies, as well as deliver preventative care information to the patients.
Gastroenterologists must acquire the following basic skills to succeed in their careers.
- Communication Skills – Excellent communication skills help gastroenterologists effectively communicate with their patients and healthcare support staff.
- Compassion – Gastroenterologists must be compassionate and understanding.
- Dexterity – Gastroenterologists must be precise as they are required to work with sharp tools. Any mistakes can cause serious consequences.
- Detail Oriented – Gastroenterologists should be accurate while monitoring the health records of the patients.
- Organizational and Leadership skills – Gastroenterologists should have good recordkeeping that helps them manage medical and business settings.
- Patience – Medical treatments require more patience and special attention. Gastroenterologists should be patient and should be physically active, where they are required to perform physical tasks.
- Problem-Solving Skills – Gastroenterologists administer the appropriate treatments and evaluate patients’ symptoms. They are required to act immediately when a patient’s life is threatened.
How to Become a Gastroenterologist? – Career Requirements and Opportunities
The basic requirement to become a gastroenterologist is a medical degree. After completing a degree level, at least three years of residency training and three years of fellowship training are required in gastroenterology.
A medical license is required where a voluntary certification improves career outlook.
Experience in medical applications and familiarity with surgical and medical equipment like forceps, defibrillators, and surgical clamps can be really helpful.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job opportunities for Gastroenterologists are expected to increase by 7% between 2018 and 2028.
How to Become a Gastroenterologist? Step-by-Step Guideline
Here is the education path for aspiring gastroenterologists.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
To begin an educational journey towards a gastroenterologist, make good decisions at the undergraduate level.
The students should focus on a well-rounded education and the mandatory prerequisite courses that include biology, mathematics, inorganic and organic physics, chemistry, English, humanities, and social sciences.
Aspiring gastroenterologists can volunteer at medical clinics or local hospitals, making themselves more appealing candidates.
It also helps in gaining first-hand experience in the medical field.
2. Take the MCAT
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) affects students’ ability to get admission to medical school. The aspiring students take the MCAT, where each program has its minimum score requirements.
Usually, aspiring candidates entering medical school take the MCAT during the junior year of study in a bachelor’s degree program.
3. Complete a Medical School
The medical school program is a four-year course that leads to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or Doctor of Medicine (M.D). The first two years primarily focus on laboratory instruction and classroom in science and medicine topics.
In the final two years, clinical rotations are held to gain hands-on experience in multiple medical specialties.
4. Medical Licensing
To practice the profession, physicians are required to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). The exam tests a student’s ability to understand basic principles, concepts, and skills specific to the profession. The licensing requirements may vary by state.
5. Residency Training
After medical school, two to three years of residency training helps acquire in-depth experience to work on the human body, preparing for advanced training in gastroenterology.
6. Gastroenterology Fellowship
A final step in the student’s education is a 3-year fellowship for becoming a gastroenterologist. It includes 18 months of patient-care experience. It requires fellow to participate in the long-term management of patients and gain training in various hepatic and gastrointestinal diseases.
7. Get Board-Certified
Becoming board certified is an advancement in a gastroenterology career. Most gastroenterologists opt to become certified in their specialty by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
8. Continue Learning
Gastroenterologists continue their education to renew their licenses and certifications. It also helps in improving skills and staying current with advances.
Aspiring students wondering how to become a gastroenterologist must hold an undergraduate degree before applying to medical school.
They must get four years of training, two to three years of a residency in internal medicine, and three years of training in a gastrointestinal medicine fellowship. Besides, they need a license to practice and voluntary certification.
Follow the step-by-step process and full your dreams. Good Luck!