Endocrinologists are medical doctors who specialize in the endocrine system, which is an extensive network of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones help control many of our most basic bodily functions, including temperature, appetite, mood, and reproductive activity (among many others).
Endocrinologists commonly treat patients who suffer from hormone-related disorders. These may include thyroid problems, diabetes, obesity, hormonal cancers or tumors, sexual dysfunction or impotence, etc. They also commonly work with patients who are born with abnormalities in their endocrine systems.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be an endocrinologist and what it takes to become one yourself.
Endocrinologist Job Duties
Typical job duties for Endocrinologists include the following:
- Diagnosing and treating conditions that involve the hormone system, including diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth problems, adrenal gland problems, pituitary gland problems, ovarian or testicular dysfunction
- Performing diagnostic tests to evaluate the functioning of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, or other glands in the body
- Discussing diagnosis and treatment with patients and their families
- Providing education about the causes of the condition and how it may be prevented
- Prescribing medications as recommended by another physician who has made a diagnosis and determined which medication will be effective
- Researching new treatments for diseases and disorders that affect hormones or glands
- Counseling patients about lifestyle changes that can improve their condition
Endocrinologist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for endocrinologists is $227,309. Those earning higher wages tend to work in general medical and surgical hospitals, and the highest earners of the profession bring home more than $375,000 per year.
Demand for endocrinologists is expected to grow steadily over the next decade. As the Baby Boomer population ages, there will be more people with chronic diseases that affect hormones. Endocrinologists will be needed to treat these patients and care for them as they age.
Endocrinologist Job Requirements
There are many requirements for an endocrinologist, including:
Education: An endocrinologist needs many years of education before they can practice medicine. They must complete a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry, followed by four years of medical school. After medical school, they need to complete an internship program and then train as residents at a hospital under the supervision of experienced doctors.
During medical school, students can take classes in biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, psychology, pharmacology, chemistry and public health. Their studies will focus on how hormones work in the body and how they affect various systems. Endocrinologists can also choose to complete fellowships in sub-specialties like metabolism, diabetes, bone metabolism, pituitary gland disorders, male reproductive disorders, thyroid diseases, obesity and growth hormone deficiency.
Training: Once an endocrinologist is licensed to practice medicine, their training continues throughout their career. They will gain skills through additional training that includes reading books, attending seminars and keeping up with new discoveries. They can also take advantage of online continuing education courses.
Certifications & Licenses: Endocrinologists must be licensed by the state where they plan to practice medicine. These licenses are earned after passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Endocrinologists must also be board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).To maintain certification, physicians must earn continuing education credits through courses and seminars focused on their specialty.
An endocrinologist must have the following skills:
Communication skills: An endocrinologist must be able to explain complicated medical conditions to patients in terms they can understand. Having excellent verbal and written communications skills is essential.
Patience: Endocrinologists often deal with difficult patients who may be anxious or upset about their condition. They must remain calm and sympathetic in a variety of situations.
Decision-making skills: An endocrinologist must be able to diagnose and treat patients effectively. They will need to be skilled at making decisions about when to refer to other specialists and which treatments to provide.
Multitasking skills: An endocrinologist may need to see several patients during a single day. Having the ability to multitask can help them manage multiple issues and projects at once.
An ability to work well under pressure: An endocrinologist may need to work in an emergency room or urgent care center. They will likely be faced with urgent situations and unexpected surprises. They may be on-call, have constant deadlines, and experience high stress levels.
Judgment: An endocrinologist needs to have the ability to make judgments so they can assess how best to treat their patients’ conditions and refer them to other health professionals. They may need to identify whether a condition should be urgently treated.
Endocrinologist Work Environment
The working environment of an endocrinologist varies widely depending on the specialty and setting. Most endocrinologists work in outpatient offices, where they can see patients for extended periods of time, often more than an hour at a time. Some endocrinologists might have to travel frequently in order to meet with clients in various locations.
They spend much of their time sitting at a desk, talking to patients and colleagues on the phone, or conducting research in laboratories. The schedule can be irregular. During busy times, they may need to remain at the office late into the evening.
There may be times when an endocrinologist must make house calls or visit clients in their home or hospital room if medical conditions warrant such action. They can also face significant pressure to achieve certain results, often from clinical-research sponsors, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and other health care professionals.
Endocrinologist Career Path
Endocrinology is one of the more lucrative specializations in internal medicine. New graduates should be able to get jobs easily, but should not expect to command top salaries right away. Hours are long and the work is hard.
Five Years On The Job
By five years, people in this field are starting to become established in their careers. They may be making hospital rounds, training residents, or performing research. Some start their own practices; others move into related fields such as rheumatology, immunology, hematology, or oncology. A small number leave the field entirely. Most feel that the long hours are worth it because of the satisfaction they get from helping others.
Ten Years On The Job
People who remain in this field are consistently productive. They are also usually quite busy managing a staff, dealing with insurance companies, and supervising the care of patients who have chronic illnesses. Those who stay in academic medicine can be promoted to associate professor or full professor, which means more administrative responsibilities and less patient contact time. Another option for advancement is to become an administrator at a hospital or medical center where endocrinologists treat patients. Most endocrinologists find these positions very satisfying because they combine clinical medicine with administrative skills and leadership roles. As specialists become more senior in their careers, they are able to take on fewer patients so that they have time for research and continuing education.
Here are three trends influencing how endocrinologists work. Endocrinologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Diabetes Management for Older Adults
Diabetes is becoming increasingly common among older adults, largely due to the prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, 11% of Americans over 65 have diabetes. These individuals are at risk for serious complications like heart disease and stroke, which can become even more dangerous when combined with diabetes.
Increasing Importance of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is a growing trend in the medical field, largely due to the benefits it can have on patient outcomes. For example, telemedicine allows doctors to communicate with patients more quickly and cheaply than they could if they had to travel long distances to see them in person. In addition, telemedicine allows doctors to provide a higher level of care by allowing them to access records that might not be available in their office or home.
The Impact of Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana is increasingly gaining mainstream acceptance as a treatment for many conditions, such as epilepsy and chronic pain.
In fact, medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective alternative to traditional prescription medications in some cases, and doctors are finding themselves recommending this treatment over more traditional prescriptions because it can be safer and more effective for certain patients.
Furthermore, many people who use medical marijuana also report using fewer prescription drugs overall because the alternative drug allows them to manage their symptoms effectively.
How to Become an Endocrinologist
1. Planning Your Career
As an endocrinologist, you will work with patients who have a variety of hormone-related disorders. It is important to be compassionate and caring when working with these individuals. Your patients may be dealing with emotional stress as well as physical symptoms. It is therefore vital that you provide them with emotional support.
The field of endocrinology requires significant time spent in school and on the job training. While some programs can be completed in less than 10 years, most require more than 12 years of education and hands-on experience. This amount of commitment makes this career one of the most competitive to enter.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for endocrinologists highlight their knowledge and experience with endocrine glands and hormones. It’s important to list your education achievements, such as when you completed medical school, when you passed the national board exam, and any specialty training courses you have completed.
3. Applying for Jobs
There are multiple steps to finding a job as an endocrinologist. The first step is to make sure you have all the education you need. A good place to start is with the American Board of Internal Medicine, which allows you to search for certification requirements for many different specialties.
Next, start thinking about your professional network. Your goal is to be able to connect with doctors that are already working in the field. If you are able to connect with someone currently working as an endocrinologist, ask them how they got their job. You can also attend conferences or local meetings that will allow you to network with others in the industry. These connections will help you to learn more about the companies you’re interested in, but they can also provide valuable advice on how to become successful in the field.
4. Ace the Interview
Dress professionally for your interview. Choose clothes that are appropriate for the setting and the type of office you will be working in. Be sure not to wear anything too trendy or bold that may distract the interviewer from your professional skills.
Find out as much as you can about the practice, including things like what kinds of patients they see, how busy it gets, and what the work culture is like. Doing so will give you a better understanding of what your role would be at this practice and help you tailor your responses to fit the specific job.
If possible, ask someone who works in this field about the interview process itself. During the interview, be prepared to discuss your experience and why you want to work in this field. You should also have questions prepared that show off your knowledge of the practice’s philosophies, protocols, and procedures.