Careers in Endocrinology: Job Options and Degree Requirements

An endocrinologist diagnoses and treats conditions associated with the endocrine system. These specialty trained doctors work with patients to restore the balance of hormones and treat diseases, such as thyroid disease and diabetes. Endocrinologists also participate in research opportunities and investigate how glands work.

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Job Options in Endocrinology

Research Endocrinology

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 13% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the national average for all positions. The annual mean salary for medical scientists, as of May 2012, was $87,830, states the BLS.

Clinical Endocrinology

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 18% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the national average for all careers. The annual mean wage for physicians was $184,820, according to the BLS as of May 2012.

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.

Residency

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

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.

Board Certification

According to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), individuals seeking board certification in endocrinology must demonstrate moral, ethical and clinical competence (www.abim.org). 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.

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