Millions of Americans suffer from one or more endocrine-related sicknesses or diseases. When an individual exhibits symptoms that point to a hormone or endocrine-related health condition, they are often referred to or seek out an endocrinologist in order to pinpoint and treat the problem. And since these medical conditions do not appear to be dwindling, the need for highly qualified individuals who have a desire to learn how to become an Endocrinologist is great.
What is an Endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a doctor who has specialized in the endocrine system, having spent years learning about each component and their actions as well as the effects of their actions on the rest of the body. This professional has training in internal medicine, and has worked with individuals to treat various endocrine-related problems within the body. An endocrinologist may work with a patient alone to treat disorders that are restricted to endocrine-related organs, or they may collaborate with another specialist when a patient’s health condition involves more than one system within the body.
Endocrinologists are primarily trained to:
While it is true that much of the emphasis in an endocrinologist’s training is on the specific condition and the medical side of that, it’s important also to be able to emotionally support patients as well. Endocrinologist at the Regional Medical Clinic Endocrinology and Diabetes Education Center in Rapid City, SD, Thomas B. Repas says, “Professionalism is something we do, not only talk about. Empathy is a characteristic which cannot be faked; one has it or one does not. However, the expression of empathy is a skill. Like any other skill, the expression of empathy can be improved with dedication and practice.”
Understanding the Educational Path to Becoming an Endocrinologist
A doctorate degree is required for entry-level positions in the field of endocrinology.
Step by Step Educational Path of an Endocrinologist
First - Earn a Bachelor’s Degree. Endocrinologists start at the same point as other medical doctors; by earning a bachelor’s degree. While a specific major is not required, it is recommended that aspiring endocrinologists focus on science courses such as biology, physiology, and social sciences. They must meet the prerequisite requirements for medical school in order to take the next step of their journey in becoming an endocrinologist.
Second - Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The next step is to get accepted into medical school. This is done by successfully completing the MCAT, which is the standard test given to those who want to become doctors. This test measures the depth of understanding of scientific concepts and ideas, as well as the student’s problem-solving, critical-thinking and analytical abilities. The test is computer-based and the offered format is multiple-choice.
Third - Apply to Medical School. Medical school is where the future endocrinologist’s medical career truly begins. During this time, students will learn basic medical knowledge and ideas, with curriculum that is heavily based on sciences like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and more. During the second half of medical school, students will spend time doing clinical rotations that allow them to gain valuable hands-on experience working with patients in a variety of specialties.
Understanding the Career Path to Becoming an Endocrinologist
Although there isn’t specific data regarding the number of endocrinologists employed in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics files this profession under “physicians and surgeons.” In May of 2012, there were 691,400 physicians and surgeons employed in the US. The majority of these professionals worked in private practices and doctor’s offices. In a setting like this, endocrinologists work alongside nurses and administrative staff to provide healthcare to patients on a one-on-one basis. They may spend time at the nearest hospital working with their patients on certain days.
Some endocrinologists work in hospital settings full time, where they collaborate and combine their knowledge with other physicians in order to treat patients suffering from endocrine-related illnesses. Other places where an endocrinologist’s skills and knowledge are valued include educational facilities, where they may teach aspiring physicians or perform medical research, or home health care, where they visit patients who are unable to leave their homes for one reason or another. According to Payscale.com, the median salary for endocrinologists in 2014 was $179,434.
Employers looking to hire endocrinologists value the following qualities in addition to experience and education:
Every state in the US and the District of Columbia requires that endocrinologists hold a valid medical license before practicing as a physician. The standard industry test is the United States Medical Licensing Examination, which is taken in three parts: the first part after the first year of medical school, the second part after the fourth year of medical school and the third part after the first year of residency. Each of these sections of the test gauges the physician’s problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities, their knowledge of medicine in general and their ability to accurately and quickly diagnose a patient, and their knowledge of appropriate treatment plans and medications.
Becoming part of certain organizations can significantly increase the chances of an endocrinologist finding a position he or she desires. The following organization is extremely valuable to these specialists:
According to the Endocrinologist Compensation Report of 2014, endocrinologists earn an annual median salary of about $184,000. Though this puts them in the bottom five when compared to the earnings of all other physicians, they earn significantly more than pediatricians, family medical doctors and HIV/ID doctors.
Along with other physicians and surgeons, endocrinology jobs are expected to grow much faster than average, at about 18% through the year 2022. As the awareness of endocrine-related conditions increases, as well as precautionary screenings, doctors are catching health conditions related to the endocrine much sooner than in the past. These facts combined with aging individuals and the increase in endocrine-related illnesses in the US has created high demand for trained and qualified endocrinologists. For these reasons, endocrinologists can count on job security and stability as well as economic stability.
Starting a Private Practice
Many endocrinologists value the idea of working independently and setting their own guidelines for practice. For this reason, private practice is an attractive option for these specialists – either on their own or in a group practice with other professionals. These are a few of the pros of having a private practice. More flexible hours and the ability to connect with patients on a more intimate level are other benefits that endocrinologists in private practices enjoy.
The cons are usually from a business perspective; doctors do not learn how to operate and manage a business in medical school. Those who don’t take steps to learn on their own, or take business and administrative courses to learn, could potentially be taking risks they don’t want to take. The start-up costs associated with a private practice are also one of the things endocrinologists worry about, especially since most come out of their educational years with significant debt.
Many experts suggest that endocrinologists considering private practice opt for a group practice so that the financial risks and worries are divided amongst a team of qualified professionals rather than shouldered by one alone.
The field of endocrinology is a bright one for physicians; job stability is not going anywhere for the next several years due to the shortage of these professionals and the growing need for them. Economic stability is also a sure thing, especially in certain parts of the country where endocrinology care is spread thin. All in all, endocrinologists can expect a fruitful and rewarding career working in both private practices and being employed by other entities.