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How Do I Become a Gastrologist?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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In order to become a gastrologist, you must be prepared to undertake a significant amount of schooling: in addition to medical school, you will usually also need to complete a year-long internship, a three to four-year residency, and sometimes also an additional fellowship program. The specifics of a gastrologist’s education requirements vary somewhat by jurisdiction, but in most places this career path requires upwards of ten years of formal medical preparation. Of course, schooling is not the only requirement to become a gastrologist. In order to be successful, you will need a real interest in understanding and repairing the digestive system and stomach. An ability to relate to and easily interact with patients is also essential.

The majority of gastrologists are gastroenterological specialists. This means that, in order to become a gastrologist, you must become a gastroenterologist first, and then you can choose to more specifically specialize in gastrology. It is rare for medical schools and residency programs to offer specifically gastrology programs, in large part because gastrology is an essential part of gastroenterology. To become a gastrologist, you must usually be willing to take on what essentially amounts to a specialty within a specialty.

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Gastrologists and gastroenterologists typically do very similar work. The main difference is scope. Gastroenterology is the study of the entire digestive system and its processes. Everything from the throat and esophagus to the stomach, large and small intestine, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder comes within the purview of a gastroenterologist. A gastrologist, by contrast, is exclusively a stomach specialist. Getting this kind of sub-specialty is usually a rather complex endeavor.

Under most medical systems, once you finish medical school you must take a internship in internal medicine and then win a place as a gastroenterology resident. On top of that, you must usually also complete a gastroenterology fellowship with a focus on gastrology. You will usually be required to conduct extensive gastrology-related research and make at least one publication on a gastrology-related topic before you will be able to become a gastrologist specifically.

It is usually possible to specialize even further, as well. Gastrological surgeons, for instance, must complete surgical training in addition to their preexisting gastroenterological internship and residency requirements. To become a pediatric gastrologist, you must usually complete a pediatric rotation and complete extensive studies on how stomach problems in children differ from those in adults.

The work available to an exclusively stomach doctor varies but is usually very complex in nature. Patients with simple stomach problems typically receive treatment from gastroenterologists. Gastroenterologists will recommend patients to gastrologists only when the problems and stomach diseases presented are highly complex or beyond the expertise of gastroenterology. Much of the training required to become a gastrologist is meant to prepare you for these routinely challenging cases.

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