7 things you need to know before you become an endocrinologist
Written by MedStudy
- Endocrinologists and pediatric endocrinologists take care of patients who have hormonal abnormalities. These abnormalities involve problems with deficiencies or overproduction of the messengers that deliver important signals for the body’s metabolism.
- The training and education to become an endocrinologist typically takes 13-14 years. That includes medical school, a residency in internal medicine, and a fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism.
- The journey to becoming an endocrinologist can be challenging, as it is a specialized field that requires a deep understanding of complex medical conditions.
- Endocrinology can be a rewarding career, as it involves helping patients manage chronic conditions and improving their quality of life!
- Endocrinologists make $248,276 per year on average.
Hours of studying and hard work have gone into your education so far, and now it's time to make a decision! Maybe the most important decision you've had to make: what specialty do you want to go into?
To provide you with additional assurance in your selection, we have conducted interviews with board-certified physicians who share the details about their professional journeys. We'll cover 7 things you should know before you choose a career as an endocrinologist.
To read our full interview with Susan Conrad, MD go to the Endocrinology: Career Focus section in your Medical Student Core.
1. What do endocrinologists do?
Endocrinologists take care of patients who have hormonal abnormalities. These abnormalities involve problems with deficiencies or overproduction of the messengers that deliver important signals for the body’s metabolism. Hormones are produced from many different organs that can affect a variety of systems, so endocrinologists are often part of a team of doctors treating an individual patient. Endocrinologists also work closely with diabetes educators, dietitians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.
Adult endocrinologists treat conditions like Type 2 diabetes, thyroid disease, pituitary tumors, disorders of calcium metabolism, adrenal disorders, and osteoporosis. They see patients in the outpatient setting, manage patients in the hospital, and are often consulted by other services when a patient with a multi-system disease has endocrine involvement.
Visits involve physical examination, interpreting test results, and discussions with the patient about the diagnosis and treatment plan.
2. What does a pediatric endocrinologist do?
Pediatric endocrinologists treat children and adolescents with conditions like Type 1 diabetes, neonatal hypoglycemia, congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and short stature due to growth hormone deficiency. Pediatric endocrinologists are likely to develop long-term relationships with children and their families as they see them frequently over time, often starting at diagnosis in the hospital, and then continuing over the years in the outpatient setting.
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Susan Conrad, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist and Medical Student Core Contributor chose a career in pediatric endocrinology because she loves the logic behind testing and treating endocrinologic conditions.
“There is the logical puzzle-like aspect to endocrinologic conditions with the pathways and feedback loops—it is satisfying to use test results to diagnose and treat a deficiency or abnormality within one of those pathways.” Susan Conrad, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Medical Student Core Contributor
3. How long does it take to become an endocrinologist?
The training and education to become an endocrinologist typically takes around 13-14 years. That time includes 4 years in undergrad, 3–4 years in medical school, a 3-year residency in internal medicine, and 2–3 years in a fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism.
Steps to become an endocrinologist:
- Complete a Bachelor's degree (4 years)
- Attend medical school and earn a medical degree (4 years)
- Complete a residency program in internal medicine (3 years)
- Complete a fellowship program in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism (2-3 years)
Of course, the amount of time can vary depending on your individual circumstances, like how many years you take to complete medical school or the length of the fellowship training.
4. Is it hard to become an endocrinologist?
Becoming an endocrinologist requires a significant amount of education and training—it takes about 14 years to become a full fledged endocrinologist! The journey to becoming an endocrinologist can be challenging, as it is a specialized field that requires a deep understanding of complex medical conditions. However, if you have a passion for endocrinology and are willing to put in the time and effort required, it is definitely an attainable career.
5. Is being an endocrinologist a good career?
Endocrinology can be a rewarding career, as it involves helping patients manage chronic conditions and improving their quality of life! We asked Dr. Conrad what she likes about being an endocrinologist and here's what she said:
"I like the chance to form deep and meaningful relationships with children and their families as you see some of them quite frequently with conditions like Type 1 diabetes or congenital adrenal insufficiency. Meeting a family in the emergency room when the child is ill with a new diagnosis, helping them get started with medications and teaching them all about their condition, and then seeing them hopefully thrive over time in the outpatient setting is immensely rewarding." Susan Conrad, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Medical Student Core Contributor
6. How to become an endocrinologist?
Typically, a board-certified practicing endocrinologist has to take these steps:
- Pass the MCAT
- Graduate from medical school
- Pass the USMLE and/or COMLEX exams
- Complete residency and fellowship
- Pass the Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism Certification exam through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)
7. Average endocrinologist salary
According to Salary.com, endocrinologists in the U.S. make $248,276 per year on average.
Each section in the Medical Student Core features a Career Focus section that outlines the details of a career in that specialty. You'll see an overview of the specialty as well as an interview with a specialist about their chosen field. Each of these paint a clear picture of what your future holds should you venture down that path.
Start studying with the Medical Student Core now to see the entire Endocrinology Career Focus section.
Read other specialty description blogs: