Endocrinologists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat disorders and diseases of endocrine glands. They also care for the hormones secreted by the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, pineal, hypothalamus, thymus, adrenal, pancreatic. ovarian, and testes glands.

These hormones are vital to the functioning of the human body, including metabolism and cell growth. Endocrine hormones also affect reproduction and food consumption. Gland diseases like hypothyroidism and diabetes cannot be cured, so endocrinologists prescribe medications to diminish the symptoms. They provide information to help patients manage their disorders so they can live fuller lives.

Endocrinology is a rewarding career, with salaries averaging nearly $200,000. However, many years of education and training are required to become certified to practice in the field. These specialists generally operate their own offices, while also working in hospitals and clinics to conduct surgery and medical testing.

Endocrinologist Job Description

Endocrinologists seek to ensure that glands, which are organs of the body, produce the proper amount of hormones. An imbalance can cause infertility, excess blood sugar, osteoporosis, rickets, precocious puberty, lack of growth, cancers and other diseases, high blood pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Specialists in this field consult with patients and conduct medical tests, then diagnose diseases and disorders of the endocrine system. Treatments range from conducting surgical procedures to prescribing insulin.

Multidisciplinary endocrinologists treat growth disorders, help patients with infertility and conditions related to reproduction, perform operations, and work with oncologists on cases involving cancerous tumors.

Diabetes specialists are concerned with diseases of the eyes, blood vessels, and kidneys that are caused by the disease. These doctors focus on foot care, the prevention of gangrene, and the amputation of limbs. They are trained to work with children, pregnant women, and other patients with special needs. Diabetes endocrinologists provide education, as well as advice regarding diet and exercise, to people suffering from the disease. They treat obesity, anorexia nervosa, lipid disorders, metabolic bone disease, calcium imbalances, and electrolyte disorders.

The responsibilities of an endocrinologist include:
  • Conduct initial consultations with patients to find out about their symptoms and medical histories;
  • Conduct ultrasound and other tests to determine the cause of the symptoms;
  • Design individualized treatment plans, which may entail prescribing medication or performing surgery;
  • Accept patients referred by other doctors, and consult with specialists like oncologists and pediatricians;
  • Counsel patients about how to cope with diseases, providing advice about diet, exercise, and other lifestyle matters;
  • If operating a private practice, perform finance, employee-management, and other business functions;
  • Create, maintain, and update patient records;
  • Receive continuing education, and read professional journals, to keep up-to-date on endocrinology information and techniques;
  • Join professional organizations such as the Endocrine Society, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and American Thyroid Association.

Endocrinologist Prerequisites

These doctors must have a thorough understanding of how the endocrine system, including glands and hormones, function in the human body. This requires studying physiology and biochemistry.

Good grades in undergraduate school and other factors are considered by medical-school admissions officials. Competition for these schools is intense, so candidates need to perform at high levels while obtaining their bachelor’s degrees.

This job is highly stressful, as patients often suffer from severe conditions. Endocrinologists must have good people skills, so patients feel they are in competent hands. Professionalism, empathy, and the ability to listen are required. These doctors need to be detail-oriented, as their duties include interpreting complicated test results.

Endocrinologist Education

The road to becoming an endocrinologist is long and expensive. The first requirement is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in science, from a four-year college. Biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and related classes are recommended.

The next step is to be accepted by a four-year medical school. Graduating from such an institution results in a medical degree. To specialize in endocrinology, a student must complete a three- or four-year residency in internal medicine. This experience provides training in pediatrics, gynecology, and obstetrics.

A three-year fellowship in adult pediatrics or reproductive endocrinology also is required. In this final stage of education, students receive extensive experience in endocrine laboratories.

Endocrinologist Certification

Every state requires a license to practice endocrinology. Applicants must have a medical degree, show proof of having successfully completed training in endocrinology, and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

Many endocrinologists also take an exam to become certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Continuing education is mandatory to maintain certification.

Endocrinologist Salary

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Endocrinologist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the endocrinologist job description:
  • Diagnose and treat disorders of endocrine glands
  • Work with nurses and other physicians
  • 4 year bachelor’s degree
  • 4 year of medical school
  • 3 to 4 additional years of residency program
  • 3 years fellowship program
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 18% employment growth by 2022