Choosing endocrinology as a medical speciality

December 12, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Gap Medics students ready for surgery! Your hormones play a role in several body systems and functions, such as fertility, digestion and metabolism. Most people don’t think about their hormones until a problem arises. That’s where an endocrinologist can come in.

An endocrinologist is a doctor who cares for patients with hormonal disorders. Different glands in the body produce different hormones. When a gland does not function properly, hormone levels can be disrupted. Hormonal imbalances can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as weight loss or gain, abnormal heart rhythms and infertility.

Endocrinologists are internal medicine doctors who have additional training to diagnose and treat conditions, which affect glands and hormone www.  For example, endocrinologists may care for patients with conditions, such as metabolic disorders, thyroid disease and diabetes.


Endocrinologist responsibilities

Similar to other types of doctors, endocrinologists take medical histories and perform physical exams. In order to make a diagnosis, they also order various tests and interpret the results. Endocrinologists also determine the most appropriate treatment, which may include dietary changes, surgery or medication. In some cases, patients may require several types of treatment to resolve the condition or ease symptoms.


Education and training to become an endocrinologist

If endocrinology is something that sounds interesting, you will have several years of schooling ahead.  A four-year degree is required prior to applying to medical school. Keep in mind, acceptance into med school is competitive, so start planning early by keeping your grade point average up and studying for the medical school admission exam, which is required by most medical schools.

Four years of medical school is next, which includes classes in subjects, such as biochemistry, physiology and medical ethics. Two years of clinical rotations are also part of the medical school curriculum. Rotations vary, but often include surgery, psychiatry and critical care.

After graduating from medical school and taking the licensing exam to become a physician, residency is next. Endocrinology is considered a sub-specialty of internal medicine, so becoming board certified in internal medicine is required. Most internal medicine residencies are three years long. After meeting all the training requirements, doctors are eligible to take the exam to become board certified in internal medicine.

Education and training do not stop there. An endocrinology fellowship is also required. Fellowships in endocrinology are usually two to three years. Fellowship training often includes education in biochemistry of hormones, thyroid imaging and treating endocrine tumors.



Endocrinologists often work in solo or group practice. Some combine an internal medicine practice with endocrinology to broaden their patient base. Other endocrinologists limit their practice to the sub-specialty. Endocrinologists may also work for medical centers and universities. Opportunities in research including clinical trials and medication development also exist.      



Salaries for doctors who specialize in endocrinology vary based on several factors, such as geographic location and whether they are in private practice or employed by a medical facility. According to a 2013 physician compensation survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association, endocrinologists made about $241,000 a year in 2013.