Gastroenterology Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

December 6, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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A gastroenterologist is a doctor who has specialised in treating diseases of the gastrointestinal system. This includes diseases and disorders of the oesophagus, stomach, intestine and pancreas and as well as the other glands associated with these organs. Hepatology is another part of practicing gastroenterology and it involves the diagnosis and treatment of problems related to the liver.

Bryant and friends in the surgery department at Iringa regional hospital Most of the patients that a gastroenterologist sees will have been referred to them by a primary care physician who has concerns of disorders or disease in their patient’s digestive tract.

As a gastroenterologist, much of your job on a daily basis will involve consultations with patients to diagnose medical conditions related to the gastrointestinal system and determine the proper course of treatment. These doctors are trained to use a wide range of complex scans and diagnostic tests including from X-Rays, MRIs and ultrasounds to endoscopies and colonoscopies. Some gastroenterologists also perform the surgeries involving the digestive system.

If you choose to work as a gastroenterologist you could work in a hospital or you may choose to work in a small private practice alongside other doctors with different specialties. If you do the extra qualification necessary to perform surgeries, these can be done in the hospital operation theatre or as outpatient surgery in a private practice. Whatever the setting, part of the responsibility of performing Gastroenterology surgery is to remain fully informed of your patients’ progress by doing rounds in the hospital or regular check-ins at the private clinic.  

Training Requirements

To qualify a gastroenterologist, you will have to first complete a 4 year medical school program and receive either an M.D. or a D.O. You will then need to complete a 2 to 3 year residency program, typically in internal medicine. During your residency you will receive intensive training on how all of the systems in the body work and how they affect each other. After you have completed residency, you can then start your training in the field of gastroenterology with a 3 year fellowship in that specific field, supervised by a practicing gastroenterologist.

 There are several continuing education courses you can take to increase your potential earnings as well as your desirability among prospective employers. You could also choose to do an additional 2 to 3 year fellowship to become a subspecialist in gastrointestinal oncology, gastrointestinal radiology, gastric medicine or hepatobiliary medicine.


The average gastroenterologist salary in the UK £92,000 per year, with many private clinicians earning as much as £200,000 a year. Salaries can vary widely depending on specialization, experience, type of healthcare establishment and geographical location.

Job Outlook

As with most other physician specialties, The job outlook for gastroenterologists is really quite good now and is expected to continue this way in the near future.  Being a specialist makes you even more desirable to hospitals and private practice facilities.