January 29, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
An endocrinologist is a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that result from disproportionate production of hormones in the thyroid, pancreas or the pituitary glands.
There are several different problems that can lead to issues within the endocrine system. Problems can be caused due to diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, menopause and osteoporosis amongst others. In some cases, symptoms may result from multiple problems throughout the body and it is the job of the endocrinologist to identify the various disorders and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Diagnosing abnormalities within the endocrine system can be challenging. Before you can practice as an endocrinologist, you will have to undergo highly specialised training in this field.
You have to first successfully complete medical school and obtain a valid medical degree. As part of your residency program, you will have to include specialties such as paediatrics, gynaecology/obstetrics and internal medicine. After you’ve completed your residency, you will have to go through an intensive fellowship that focuses on endocrinology and the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders. During the fellowship you will also get a chance to specialise in one of the sub-specialties of endocrinology. This could include disorders of the thyroid or the reproductive system, diabetes or menstrual disorders. Paediatric endocrinology is another highly sub-specialty in this field.
After completing your fellowship and before you can start practicing as an endocrinologist, you will first have to pass a certifying exam.
As mentioned above, an endocrinologist can choose from a number of sub-specialties in this field.
If you decide to work with diabetes patients you will be responsible for making a positive diagnosis for diabetes, teaching patients how to take care of their body and how to control their blood sugar levels, developing appropriate diet plans for patients depending on their age and lifestyle and treating them when things go wrong.
If you choose to specialise in menstrual disorders, you would primarily deal with pre-menopausal women and menopausal women. Your role would be to help them better manage and cope with their erratic symptoms during this stage of their life. This could include suggesting and monitoring procedures such as hormone replacement therapy.
As an endocrinologist you could choose to work in a hospital or start a private practice. Working in a hospital setting often includes being on-call after normal work hours.
Paediatric endocrinology is another sub-specialty that deals with endocrine disorders in children ranging from infants to teenagers. Disorders in this specialty typically include physical growth delays and disorders, issues with sexual development and intersex disorders. You would also be working with young patients suffering from diabetes, hypoglycaemia and disorder of the thyroid or adrenal glands.
If you prefer not dealing directly with patients, there is a lot of scope in the field of research. A number of endocrinologists work on the development of new drugs in this field and also get into testing new treatments or researching new treatments and procedures. These researchers are highly in demand in various academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions.
The average salary for an endocrinologist is about AUD 356,000 a year.