Gastroenterologist: What it is, how to become and salary

The term Gastroenterology is known to be the study of normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder.


It is also the branch of medicine that focuses on the health of the digestive system or the gastrointestinal tract.

Who is a Gastroenterologist

A Gastroenterologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver in both men and women. They don’t perform surgery.  They primarily work in a clinic or hospital setting.

What are the Conditions Managed by Gastroenterologists

  • Cancer (Gastrointestinal, Liver, Pancreatic, Colorectal, Colon)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Malabsorption disorders (e.g., celiac disease, lactose intolerance)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD (Heartburn, Acid Reflux)
  • Hemorrhoids (Swollen Veins in the Lowest Part of the Rectum and Anus)
  • Polyps (Abnormal Tissue Growths)
  • Ulcers (Painful Sores in the Stomach Lining)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Bleeding in the digestive tract
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hiatal hernias
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract (e.g., gastritis)
  • Liver disease (e.g., hepatitis, jaundice)
  • Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody stool

When do you need to see a Gastroenterologist

Frequent Heartburn

Occasional heartburn is likely nothing to be concerned with, but frequent heartburn may indicate Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Barrett’s Esophagus, and possibly, even oesophageal cancer. If acid reflux occurs often, you may also be diagnosed with GERD and begin receiving medication to alleviate your discomfort, and have testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Abnormal Bowel Movements

Constipation: If you pass fewer than three bowel movements per week, your constipation may be due to blockage, neurological issues, muscular or hormonal malfunction, diet or other factors. A gastroenterologist may also help you determine which the cause is. 

Diarrhea: If runny stool persists for more than a few days, it could be due to a virus, parasite/bacteria, lactose intolerance, a reaction to medication(s), or it could be indicative of other digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, just to name a few. .

Rectal Bleeding

Causes of blood in the stool can vary in severity but generally means there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. This may be caused by an anal fissure (a small cut or tear in the tissue lining the anus), hemorrhoids, or it could be something requiring medical attention, such as cancer.

Esophageal Pain or Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia)

Certain ailments could cause you to experience difficulty swallowing, or inability to swallow. If you experience frequent oesophageal pain or difficulty swallowing, or if difficulty swallowing intensifies over time, a gastroenterologist may conduct a procedure known as an upper endoscopy to determine the cause of your discomfort and begin administering treatment.

Abdominal Pain and Bloating

Occasional, mild abdominal pain and bloating may not be cause enough to see a specialist. However, if abdominal pain or bloating occurs after nearly every meal you eat or is accompanied by nausea, or painful bowel movements,  be sure to inform your physician of those particular discomforts, as they may then decide to refer you to a gastroenterologist for further tests.

You’re of Age to be Regularly Screened for Colorectal Cancer (50+ Years)

A screening test is a preventative measure and should be administered before symptoms present. Colorectal cancer often begins as precancerous polyps that can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy. The Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) in the U.S. advises adults aged 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Some patients need screening colonoscopies earlier. For example, African Americans should start the screening process at age 45. 

How to become a Gastroenterologist

To become the best gastroenterologist: A minimum of 13 years of education and extensive training. Students interested in gastroenterology should also focus on undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. After attaining an undergraduate degree (e.g., Bachelor of Science) or a postgraduate (advanced; e.g., Master’s) degree, most students attend a 4-year medical school

The next step gastroenterology doctors take is a 3-year program of special study and training called a general internal medicine residency. After completion of this residency, the internist may continue to specialize in gastroenterology by entering a gastroenterology fellowship.

The gastroenterology fellowship is an intense 2- or 3-year program, during which the internist receives extensive training in diseases and conditions of the digestive tract.

Once you’ve completed your training, you must pass a specialty certification exam for gastroenterologists. The American Board of Internal Medicine certifies you upon the successful completion of the exam.

Which organizations produce the best Gastroenterologists

Organizations such as the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, World Gastroenterology Organisation, the American College of Gastroenterology, British Society of Gastroenterology, United European Gastroenterology, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Gastroenterological Association oversee gastroenterology fellowships to ensure a high quality of education and training.

What is the Salary of a Gastroenterologists

1. By Geographic Area:

  • Northeast: $378,000
  • Mid-Atlantic: $356,000
  • Southeast: $378,000
  • Great Lakes: $407,000
  • North Central: $339,000
  • Southwest: $318,000
  • Northwest: $475,000
  • Southwest: $406,000
  • West: $410,000

2. Setting:

  • Healthcare organization: $432,000
  • Office-based single-specialty group practice: $420,000
  • Office-based solo practice: $371,000
  • Hospital: $307,000
  • Academic, research, military, government: $280,000
  • Outpatient clinic: $260,000

3. By Gender:

  • Men: $394,000
  • Women: $303,000
A Gastroenterologist is a physician with dedicated training management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Gastroenterology doctors also pay attention to the detailed understanding of the normal action (physiology) of the gastrointestinal organs including the movement of material through the stomach and intestine (motility), the digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body, removal of waste from the system, and the function of the liver as a digestive organ. These are the functions of the gastrointestinal tract.

A Gastroenterologist must first complete a three-year Internal Medicine residency and is then eligible for additional specialized training (fellowship) in Gastroenterology. 


  1. thank you for this vital information, very helpful

  2. I’m very impressed with the way and manner the topic is presented. It is very good, well explained and eye opener.

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