Job Search

Internist vs. Gastroenterologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Both internists and gastroenterologists are medical doctors who treat patients with digestive system disorders. However, there are several key differences between these two types of physicians. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in gastroenterology, understanding the training, skills and experience required can help you decide if this is the right field for you. In this article, we compare internists and gastroenterologists, and we provide information on what you need to know before choosing a career in gastroenterology.

What is an Internist?

Internists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of adult diseases. They are trained in a wide range of medical specialties, such as cardiology, endocrinology, and pulmonology. Internists often serve as primary care physicians for their patients. This means that they are responsible for managing all of their patients’ medical needs, including preventative care, routine check-ups, and sick visits. Internists may also coordinate the care of their patients with specialists, such as surgeons or neurologists.

What is a Gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the digestive system. They often work in hospitals, clinics or private practices. Gastroenterologists use a variety of diagnostic tools, including endoscopes, to examine a patient’s digestive tract. They may also order blood tests or other laboratory tests to help them diagnose a patient’s condition. Gastroenterologists treat a wide range of conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and pancreatitis. They may also provide preventive care to help patients avoid digestive problems.

Internist vs. Gastroenterologist

Here are the main differences between an internist and a gastroenterologist.

Job Duties

A gastroenterologist performs a wide range of procedures, including colonoscopies, endoscopies and biopsies. They also diagnose and treat digestive disorders and diseases. Internists focus on the general care and treatment of internal illnesses and conditions without specialization. Their work involves evaluating patients’ overall health and providing preventive care measures. These physicians may refer their patients to a gastroenterologist for specialized care if necessary.

Job Requirements

Internists and gastroenterologists must complete a four-year undergraduate degree before attending medical school. During medical school, they will take classes on topics like human anatomy and physiology, as well as more specialized courses related to their chosen field of medicine. After completing medical school, both internists and gastroenterologists must complete a three-year residency program. During their residency, they will receive training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions affecting the internal organs. Finally, both internists and gastroenterologists must obtain licensure from the state in which they wish to practice.

Work Environment

Internists and gastroenterologists work in different environments. Internists typically work in hospitals, clinics or private practices. They may also work for the government or military. Gastroenterologists usually work in private practices, but they can also work in hospitals or research facilities.


Both internists and gastroenterologists need to have excellent communication skills. They will use these skills when they are talking to patients about their symptoms, medical history and treatment options. They also need to be able to listen carefully to what patients say to them so that they can make an accurate diagnosis.

Both of these professionals need to have strong critical thinking skills. They need to be able to quickly assess a patient’s condition and decide on the best course of action. This might involve ordering tests, prescribing medication or referring the patient to a specialist.

Internists also need to have good organizational skills. They often see multiple patients in a day and need to keep track of each patient’s medical records, test results and treatment plan. Gastroenterologists need to have good manual dexterity. This is because they often perform procedures like colonoscopies and endoscopies, which require the use of small instruments.


Internists earn an average salary of $176,593 per year, while gastroenterologists earn an average salary of $310,780 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the state in which you work, the size of the company you work for and your level of experience.


Dental Ceramist vs. Dental Technician: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Actuary vs. Risk Manager: What Are the Differences?