What is a Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterologists are physicians who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and illnesses related to the digestive system. They help patients with a wide variety of digestive complaints, including acid reflux, hepatitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. By performing tests and using procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies, among others, they are able to find the cause of the problem and help to improve the patient’s overall digestive health.

Work Environment

Gastroenterologists tend to work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Their work will involve a comfortable, clean environment, however many of the associated aspects of their specialty may make some people squeamish. The digestive tract is important for overall health, but also includes the processing and end result of food.

Gastroenterologists must be comfortable working with patients, and in particular working with more taboo areas of the body. They also require a good support team for nursing care and administrative duties, so they have a very social work life.

Work Schedule

The schedule for gastroenterologists can be quite busy, often working four to five days per week, and often in excess of forty or fifty hours spread over these days. On a typical day, they will see 20 to 25 patients, including consultations and procedures, as well as many patients during hospital rounds. Gastroenterologists may also be required to be on call or prepared to work extra hours in emergency situations.

Gastroenterologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The job outlook for gastroenterologists is quite promising, with an expected 18 percent growth in the coming years. This is due in large part to the aging population; many of the illnesses treated by gastroenterologists are exacerbated by age. As well, advances in health care technology and research have led to a greater number of illnesses treatable, and gastroenterology, as a field is particularly benefiting from this.

What Affects Gastroenterologist Salary

Gastroenterologist salary is affected most by geographic location and experience, as well specialization. The industry worked also shows some improvements, as do changes in position, be they promotions in the hierarchy or movement to a private practice from a group clinic or hospital.

The mean annual gastroenterologist salary is approximately $215,000, however, as the data is highly dependent on the aforementioned factors, statistics fluctuate greatly.

Education and Specialization 

Gastroenterologists require a bachelor’s degree followed by a medical degree. Like all doctors, upon completion of the medical degree, they must take part in a residency, lasting between three and five years. This is often followed by a fellowship in a specialty, lasting a further two to three years.

The education itself has only a minor impact on gastroenterologist salary, dependent primarily on the prestige of the educative institutions, and on the overall skill the gastroenterologist displays in his or her classes and residency.

Specialization is a more important matter for consideration regarding salary. Subspecialties in gastroenterology include hepatology, inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and advanced endoscopy, and skill in these subspecialties can all lead to higher wages.

Experience and Position 

Experience is always a means of salary improvement; new gastroenterologists will tend to earn around the $100,000 range or below, with some exceptions. However, with ten or more years experience, they can see wages increase to the average, or higher.

Position is a further matter for salary improvements, as heading a department or working in a teaching position will both bring higher salaries. Those who work in their own private practice also tend to have a higher average salary, though many tend to working in clinics for a few years before striking out on their own, gaining valuable experience. 


The industry worked will make large differences in gastroenterologist salary; those working solely in colleges, universities, and professional schools, for example, tend to earn around $98,000, while those working for general medical and surgical hospitals will receive closer to $160,000. The highest salaries, however, are in private or small group practices, with averages wages of approximately $206,500.


The geographic location worked is the other major factor in gastroenterologist salary, offering differences between $120,000 and $250,000. Those working in more urban areas, primarily in smaller cities such as Nashua, NH, reported the highest earnings. Mississippi is one of the best-paying states, at $234,600. It is followed by South Dakota, at $230,700 and Minnesota, at $228,000.