Explore internal medicine & its subspecialties - Part 6October 10, 2014
Gastroenterology: job description & training
Gastroenterology is the subspecialty of internal medicine that is concerned with conditions and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract in adult patients. More specifically, gastroenterologists focus on treating the oesophagus, liver, pancreas, stomach and small and large intestines. Their specific role involves diagnosing, preventing and treating conditions and disorders of the GI tract in adult patients. But as broadly trained internists, they also perform general physical check-ups. If the condition that is diagnosed falls within the gastroenterology specialty, they will proceed with the treatment. If the condition requires the services of another physician, they make appropriate referrals.
To practice in this specialty you will have to do an additional two to three years studying conditions specific to the gastrointestinal tract after completing about seven years of medical school and postgraduate training, obtaining board certification in internal medicine. As a gastroenterologist you may not necessarily see all patients who suffer from minor digestive problems. Instead they are consulted in complex cases when special knowledge in diagnosis and treatment is required.
While you may not perform surgery in your role as a gastroenterologist, you may perform procedures such as liver biopsy and examinations of the stomach, oesophagus and small and large intestine, through the use of specially designed flexible medical instruments called endoscopes.
Infectious Disease: job description & training
Infectious disease specialists are either doctors of internal medicine or paediatrics who have undergone additional training and are qualified experts in diagnosing and treating infectious diseases. Specialists in infectious disease or ID, have expertise in treating infections of the brain, heart, lungs, bones, sinuses, pelvic organs, bowels and the urinary tract, regardless of whether they are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. As an ID physician you will be responsible for reviewing patients’ medical data including X-Rays, lab reports and other records. You would also counsel healthy people who plan on travelling to countries that are known to have a high risk of infectious diseases and perform physical examinations in cases of suspected infection. Work within this specialty is restricted to diagnosis and medical treatment. Specialists in infectious disease do not perform surgery. You could however choose to further specialise in treating patients with AIDS, which is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.
To become an infectious disease specialist you will have to complete two to three years additional training in infectious diseases after completing your basic seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training in this field.