Endocrinology Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career ProspectsDecember 3, 2013
Endocrinologists or physicians who practice endocrinology specialise in diagnosing and treating the various disorders that cause an imbalance of hormones produced by the thyroid, pancreas and pituitary glands. Because most of these conditions are very complex and often involve several different systems in the body, endocrinologists have to be very highly trained to be proficient in this speciality.
There are numerous disorders that could adversely affect the endocrine system, including cholesterol disorders, osteoporosis, diabetes, infertility, hypertension, stunted growth, menopause, thyroid, cancers of the endocrine system and metabolic disorders, to name just a few. Endocrinologists have to be versatile enough to diagnose and treat the whole suite of symptoms, many of which are totally unrelated to each other. You will also be trained in carrying out various diagnostic tests and procedures from simple blood glucose monitoring to more complicated fine-needle biopsies and bone density tests.
As an endocrinologist you will be responsible for diagnosing diabetes and teaching your diabetic patients how to control their blood sugar levels and creating short and long term diet and exercise regimens for patients who have lipid disorders. You will also be responsible for prescribing and monitoring effective hormone replacement therapy for peri-menopausal and menopausal women.
Endocrinologist Career Path
There are a few diverse career paths you can choose from if you decide to pursue a specialty in endocrinology.
As a clinical endocrinologist, you would work in a hospital, medical clinic or private practice, seeing patients on a regular basis and sometimes being on-call for consultations.
Another option is becoming a research endocrinologist. As a research endocrinologist, you will conduct experiments and do different types of research into developing new drugs and treatment and also to identify the safest and most effective methods for treating various endocrine disorders. If you chose the research route you will find plenty of work opportunities with a pharmaceutical companies, public research institutes or academic institutions.
To be qualified to practice endocrinology, you will have to first complete 4 years of medical school, after which you will be required to do a 3 to 4 year residency program. Your residency curriculum will include internal medicine, gynaecology/obstetrics and paediatrics. All of these areas are necessary to help you understand the intricacies of the endocrine system and the various ways that the body systems can get affected by endocrine disorders.
After you’ve completed your residency, you then do 2 to 3 years of intensive training in a fellowship where you will learn everything about diagnosing and treating endocrine disorders. This fellowship is also the time when you can choose to focus your study on any one of the endocrinology subspecialties – reproductive and menstrual disorders, diabetes, thyroid or paediatric disorders.
You will have to pass a certification exam before you can legally practice as a endocrinologist.
The average annual salary for an endocrinologist is AUD 356,000 with AUD 141819 at the lower end and AUD 164728 at the higher end of the scale.