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The Premed Student’s Guide to Becoming an Endocrinologist

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Choosing a career is one of the most challenging and confusing tasks for medical students. It is important to do something you really want to do. Carefully think about what kind of medical career appeals to you and then make a well-informed career choice.

Becoming an endocrinologist is a great option for medical students who are interested in internal medicine and treating endocrine-related problems. Endocrinology is a branch of medicine that deals with hormone-related diseases. It focuses on hormones releasing glands such as the adrenal gland, hypothalamus, ovaries and testes.

The endocrine system consists of hormone releasing glands that are responsible for regulating and releasing hormones. The human body consists of more than 50 hormones that play an important role in controlling different bodily functions. The medical specialty involves the study of a wide range of symptoms in relation to hormonal imbalance. A majority of endocrine-related conditions are chronic that require proper medication and lifelong management.

Endocrinology is one of the most flexible, and relaxed medical specialties that doesn’t involve emergencies. Students thinking of choosing a career in endocrinology will find many lucrative career options in different healthcare settings.

Becoming an endocrinologist requires years of hard work, dedication, schooling and training. Here is a complete guide for premedical and medical students interested in becoming an endocrinologist.

How to Become an Endocrinologist?

Education Requirements

Students interested in becoming an endocrinologist are required to complete thirteen years of education.

  •         Four years of college
  •         Four years of medical school
  •         Three years of residency
  •         Two years of fellowship training

Endocrinologists are physicians and you need to complete an M.D. program to obtain a degree of Doctor of Medicine. The path to becoming an endocrinologist starts from admission to medical school. Admission to medical school is a challenging process. You need to complete all the medical school prerequisites, score a good GPA, write an impressive medical school application, get a high MCAT score and letters of recommendation.

Medical school is a four-year-long journey that includes a lot of full-time courses, regular lectures, lab work, clinical rotations in various medical specialties. The first two years of basic sciences program is devoted to lectures, and lab work and the final two years clinical sciences  program involves clinical rotations in different hospitals to get some clinical experience in different fields of medicine.

Once you complete the medical school journey, you can apply to the three-year residency program in internal medicine, pediatrics or gynecology. After completing your internal medicine residency, you are required to complete an additional two to three-year fellowship training in the endocrinology subspecialty. Fellowship programs vary, some focus on providing general training while others focus on special training such as reproduction, infertility, or pediatrics.

Endocrinology is a diverse field; you will find a number of options to consider when it comes to choosing a subspecialty in endocrinology.  Here is a list of endocrinology subspecialties:

  • Diabetes and metabolism
  • Endocrine oncology
  • Endocrinology nuclear medicine
  • Gender reassignment
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Pediatric endocrinology
  • Reproductive endocrinology
  • Thyroid disease

Board Certification

In order to practice as an endocrinologist, graduates must pass the USMLE – United States Medical Licensing Exam to obtain a state license. After completing the fellowship program, you need to become board certified in internal medicine through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Graduates must pass the endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism certification examinations in order to work as certified endocrinologist.

Responsibilities of an Endocrinologist

An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system. He gets training in internal medicine, pediatrics and gynecology before starting his career as an endocrinologist. Basically, endocrinology is a subspeciality of internal medicine that deals with hormone regulation that can affect metabolism, growth, digestion, mood, reproduction, lactation, organ function and sensory perception.

The endocrine system focuses on the glands and organs of the endocrine system, such as the pancreas, ovaries, testes, hypothalamus, thyroid, pituitary gland, adrenal gland and thymus. Any abnormality or malfunction in these organs can trigger hormone imbalances that lead to endocrine disorders.

Being an endocrinologist, you are responsible to diagnose and treat diseases of the endocrine system. Endocrinologists assess symptoms, order diagnostic tests and create effective treatment plans. As an endocrinologist, you may work with primary physicians and healthcare professionals to improve the health condition of the patients.

As an endocrinologist, you are trained to perform a number of duties including:

  •         Carefully examine patients suffering from different endocrine-related disorders
  •         Study their medical records and symptoms to diagnose the disease
  •         Diagnosing and treating a myriad of endocrine disorders such as diabetes, high cholesterol, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis – to name a few.
  •         Create diet, exercise and treatment plan for patients to improve the patient’s condition
  •         Perform regular diagnostic tests and physical exams to check the progress
  •         Train, give feedback and teach resident students
  •         Work with primary care and other physicians to deal with complex disorders and come up with an effective treatment plan to ensure the best possible results

Endocrinologists are trained to diagnose and manage diseases that are caused due to hormonal imbalance. These specialists are responsible to regulate hormones within the body by prescribing medicine and suggesting diet and lifestyle changes. As an endocrinologist, you can treat the following health conditions:

  • diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • menopause
  • metabolic disorders
  • thyroid diseases
  • excessive or insufficient production of hormones
  • cancers
  • short stature
  • infertility

Career Opportunities for Endocrinologist

Pursuing a degree in endocrinology will prepare you for a number of lucrative careers in diverse fields of medicine. Endocrinologists can find career opportunities in different specialties such as clinical endocrinology, research endocrinology, pediatric endocrinology, neuroendocrinology, reproductive endocrinology and more. As an endocrinologist, you can work in hospitals, clinical labs or run your own private clinics. Endocrinologists can also work with different multiple healthcare facilities.

Concluding Thoughts

Endocrinology is a diverse and challenging medical specialty providing students with a lot of exciting learning and career opportunities. Aspiring endocrinologists are required to complete an M.D. program from a top Caribbean medical school and gear up for many rewarding and fruitful career paths in the field of endocrinology.

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