Endocrinologists are medical doctors with specialized knowledge of the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormonal balance in the body. After completing medical school, residency and possibly fellowship, an endocrinologist could work in research, studying the endocrine glands in a lab setting, or could see and treat patients with endocrine disorders.
A four-year medical school program must be completed to be an endocrinologist. Courses in this program consist of biochemistry, pharmacology and anatomy. After two years, students usually begin work in healthcare facilities with licensed physicians. During this time, students learn more about how to diagnose different medical conditions in patients. After graduation, students must enter a residency program and complete a fellowship. The fellowship usually takes two years to complete. Those interested in seeking board certification must demonstrate strong clinical knowledge as well as ethical and moral standards. Students can specialize in research or clinical endocrinology.
|Career||Research Endocrinologist||Clinical Endocrinologist|
|Education Requirements||Doctoral or professional degree||Doctoral or professional degree|
|Job Growth (2014-24)*||8% for all medical scientists, except epidemiologists||14% for all physicians and surgeons|
|Median Salary||$82,240 for all medical scientists, except epidemiologists (2015)*||$184,427 for all endocrinologists (2016)**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Payscale.com
Students who get their degree in endocrinology have the opportunity to participate in research and investigate exactly how glands work. Graduates can go into different specialties, such as research endocrinology and clinical endocrinology. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of two possible options for endocrinology majors.
Endocrinologists working within a laboratory actively investigate the causes of endocrine disease and work to create and evaluate new treatment options. These specialists participate in drug discovery and are presented with opportunities to publish their research. They may work for academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions for all medical scientists are expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024, which is slightly faster than the national average for all positions. The annual median salary for medical scientists, as of May 2015, was $82,240, states the BLS.
Clinical endocrinologists use a variety of methods and techniques to treat patients with hormonal imbalances and deficiencies. These professionals may have expertise in a subspecialty like pediatric or reproductive endocrinology. They are experts on growth and development, metabolism and fertility among other areas. Clinical endocrinologists may also help patients with diabetes, hyperthyroidism and other disorders.
The BLS predicts opportunities for all physicians and surgeons to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the national average for all careers. The median salary for all endocrinologists as of 2016, according to Payscale.com, is $184,427.
Endocrinology Degree Requirements
Aspiring endocrinologists must complete a 4-year medical school program. Students generally commence their studies with courses in anatomy, pharmacology and biochemistry. After completing their first two years, students typically begin work in healthcare facilities alongside licensed physicians. This allows medical students to gain a deeper understanding in diagnosing illness and providing patient care.
After completing medical school candidates may then enter an endocrinology residency program. Generally lasting three years, these programs help residents to specialize in endocrinology by working with patients who are suffering from hypogonadism, rotations. Duties may include discussing medical exam results and performing consultations.
Fellowship programs typically take two years to complete and expose participants to clinical and in-patient training, research opportunities and clinics on diabetes and metabolism. Programs may also focus on thyroid-nuclear medicine and hypothalamic, lipid disorders and other health problems related to the endocrine system. Upon completing a fellowship program, students should posses basic endocrine knowledge, have an understanding of clinical skills and procedures and be prepared to take their board certification.
According to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), individuals seeking board certification in endocrinology must demonstrate moral, ethical and clinical competence. They must also complete a fellowship that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Individuals meeting these requirements must also pass the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Certification Examination before they are considered certified to practice in the field of endocrinology.
Any aspiring endocrinologist must first complete medical school and a residency. A fellowship provides further specialized training. Working as a research endocrinologist involves studying the endocrine system, while clinical endocrinologists see and treat patients who experience endocrine disease.