How To Become an Endocrinologist – Becoming an endocrinologist can be a challenging, but rewarding, career choice. You will help patients who suffer from problems related to hormones and glands. Endocrinology is a medical specialty that deals with all the glands in the human body (such as the thyroid, adrenal gland and pancreas). It also encompasses the study of diseases that are caused by hormonal imbalances.
There are two major areas of specialization within this field: pediatric endocrinology and diabetes mellitus. This article covers what you need to know about how to become a successful endocrinologist.
Endocrinology is the study of hormones, which are chemicals produced by various glands in the body that help control various functions and processes. The endocrine system, which is made up of glands such as the hypothalamus and thyroid gland, produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, reproduction and mood. Endocrinologists diagnose and treat disorders of the endocrine system by treating diseases with medicines or surgery. Here are some tips to become an endocrinologist:
What is an endocrinologist?
Endocrinology is the medical specialty that focuses on disorders of the endocrine system, which controls hormones. Hormones are a group of chemical messengers that control various functions in our body, including metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, moods and emotions. Endocrinologists can be primary care physicians or specialists who work closely with other doctors who care for patients with specific types of endocrine disorders such as thyroid conditions. Endocrinologists diagnose and treat diseases such as diabetes, obesity, infertility and osteoporosis. There are many possible endocrine-related problems an endocrinologist may encounter during their career. Let’s explore how an endocrinologist’s expertise can help people with these issues:
An endocrinologist is a type of specialized medical doctor. They work with patients who have endocrine diseases like Hashimoto’s Disease, Graves’ Disease, Diabetes mellitus, Addison’s Disease and other autoimmune diseases and hormonal imbalance conditions. They diagnose patients, treat patients and provide them with helpful advice about how to eat and exercise.
Related: What Is an Endocrinologist?
What does an endocrinologist do?
Endocrinologists have a variety of job duties to complete in order to provide beneficial care to their patients. Here are some examples of their job duties:
Meeting with patients for scheduled appointments throughout the workday
Reviewing their patients’ medical histories and symptoms to aide their diagnosis and treatment research
Ordering labs for their patients to determine whether they have a hormonal imbalance or autoimmune condition
Interpreting the results of lab work to identify any results outside of the normal ranges
Performing thyroid biopsies on patients to test for underlying health conditions and thyroid diseases
Ordering ultrasounds for patients to see if they can identify conditions through medical imaging
Providing patients with additional resources about their conditions including informative pamphlets
Prescribing medications to patients to help balance their hormone levels and stabilize their conditions
Offering advice to patients about diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that can help them live normally with their condition
Referring patients to other specialists including physical therapists to help treat chronic pain
How to become an endocrinologist
In order to become an endocrinologist, you need to complete required education and obtain licensure. Review this list to determine how to qualify to work as an endocrinologist:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
To become an endocrinologist, candidates first need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program. There aren’t specific degree requirements for those looking to attend medical school, but they can benefit from majoring in pre-medicine, biology, chemistry or nursing.
2. Attend medical school
Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, candidates should apply for medical school. Typically, medical school programs last four years. The first two years provide students with a foundational knowledge of medicine, while the last two years allow students to work in hospitals and explore different career tracts. Some individuals may decide to take the USMLE after the first two years enrolled.
3. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
Having graduated from medical school and obtained a doctorate of medicine degree, candidates now need to take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) if they have not already. This exam qualifies candidates to start a residency program. It includes a variety of questions about different areas of medicine, including pharmacology, anatomy, microbiology, nutrition, immunology, genetics, physiology and more.
4. Complete a residency program
Residency programs vary in length depending on the type of medicine an individual wants to practice. Prospective endocrinologists may decide to choose internal medicine as their focus because it provides them with three years of experience examining, diagnosing and treating all kinds of internal diseases that occur in the human body.
5. Complete an endocrinology fellowship
Endocrinology fellowships comprise two to three years of both clinical experience and research projects. During this fellowship, candidates learn about metabolic disorders, endocrine disorders and additional conditions like diabetes or reproductive ailments.
6. Earn license from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)
To become a certified endocrinologist, candidates need to apply for certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine. They require peer reviews, transcript documents and additional information about your clinical rotations and research projects.
Beneficial skills for endocrinologists
Endocrinologists should demonstrate a combination of technical and interpersonal skills to provide effective advice and treatment to their patients. Here are some examples of beneficial skills for endocrinologists:
Interpersonal communication: Interpersonal communication is the process by which an individual can adjust their language and communication strategies to aide the understanding of others. Endocrinologists need good interpersonal communication skills to help their patients understand the conditions they have, and how they affect their bodies.
Empathy: Because endocrinologists encounter patients who don’t understand the cause of their condition or why they experience so much pain, they need to be able to be empathetic towards them. This shows patients that they care and helps establish trust between them.
Endocrine system expertise: Endocrinologists should have an excellent understanding of the endocrine system, what it includes and how it affects the human body.
Endocrine disease expertise: Endocrinologists also need to have expert knowledge of endocrine diseases and related conditions so they can educate their patients and identify related symptoms.
Investigative mindset: Endocrinologists should have a natural inclination to investigate their patients’ symptoms. This motivates them to conduct research, collect lab samples and ultimately confirm a diagnosis. By doing this, they help patients get the treatment they need, quickly.
Biopsy expertise: Endocrinologists need to perform biopsies on patients to collect samples for further analysis. They typically perform thyroid biopsies for patients with suspected thyroid diseases.
Attention to detail: During appointments, endocrinologists should demonstrate excellent attention to detail. This enables them to connect a patient’s symptoms or appearance to a potential diagnosis.
Written communication: Written communication is important for endocrinologists, as they need to write reports and communicate with patients or other health professionals through email. By having good writing skills, they prevent miscommunication and maintain their professionalism.
Technology proficiency: Endocrinologists typically use computers and software programs to update patient data. They may also need to know how to use medical equipment to evaluate their patients properly. Because of this, they should be comfortable using technology in their daily work activities.
Salary expectations for endocrinologists
The national average salary expectations for endocrinologists is $248,765 per year. An endocrinologist’s earnings may vary depending on the geographic location of their employment, the healthcare facility they work for and the level of experience they have.
Job outlook for endocrinologists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for physicians and surgeon occupations will see an increase of 4% between 2019 and 2029.