How to Become an Endocrinologist

What is endocrinology? And how do you study it?

Hormones – they’re not just for teenagers. Everyone has hormones, at all ages, which means there’s a medical practice to handle any problems or abnormalities.

The endocrine system is the portion of the body involving hormones, which also includes everything those secretions are responsible for doing too. This entire field of medicine is known as endocrinology. In this article, we discuss a bit more about the field as well as how you can become an endocrinologist.

Define Hormones

There are several glands throughout the human body that release secretions into the bloodstream. These fluids are known as hormones.

Hormones influence the body in subtle ways, ranging from growth spurts to encouraging organs to respond to environmental factors, such as the release of insulin when sugar is consumed.

What Endocrinologists Do

As an endocrinologist, you'll be responsible for analyzing, diagnosing, and treating various issues that arise from an abundance or lack of said hormones. For aspiring endocrinologists, this may sound a bit overwhelming when you consider how many organs can secrete or respond to hormones.

Endocrinologists focus mainly on endocrine organs. Specifically those whose sole responsibility is to secrete hormones. Examples include the thyroid, pancreas, and pituitary gland.

Endocrine system diseases include diabetes, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis, as well as sex hormone disorders.

Study Requirements

Medical students hoping to become an endocrinologist should anticipate undergoing extensive training. Endocrinology is a very complex field and all edge cases need to be taken into consideration with every patient.

To get started, enroll into a college offering a bachelor's degree program in a science-related field. We recommend a biology or physiology major. And be sure to accompany this experience with lots of volunteer work. This will help you establish predominant social skills which will improve your bedside manner and help you stand out as an ideal candidate for hire.

Next stop is the Medical College Administrations Test, or the MCAT. This test reviews biological and biochemical systems, as well as analysis and reasoning skills. Medical students able to earn more than 30 points pass the MCAT and are officially ready to apply to med school.

At this stage, budding endocrinologists typically spend 4 years in med school. The first two are dedicated to learning all about medical law and other topics such as pharmacology. Once you've tackled this portion, you'll mainly focus on learning all about the endocrine system.

After Graduation

Before officially entering into the medical field as a certified doctor, students are required to complete an additional 3 years of medical residency. You will be heavily supervised by a licensed physician in a real-world setting, such as a hospital, where you will gain valuable firsthand experience.

A mandatory fellowship program follows the residency. This last leg of the learning journey typically lasts 2-3 years and will take place at a clinic or hospital. During this time, students focus mainly on learning the ins and outs of endocrinology as they work with a certified endocrinologist.

Getting Certified

After over a decade of study, students should be ready to take on the United State Medical Licensing Examination, or the USMLE. This rigorous test is comprised of three portions: an 8-hour test; a 9-hour test; and a 2-day assessment.

Upon passing the USMLE, medical students have only one last hurdle to overcome: Getting certified. Finally.

The process involves passing the internal medicine and the endocrinology exams. These final tests are issued by the American Board of Internal Medicine and should not be taken lightly. Those able to make it this far may enter into the healthcare industry as a board-certified endocrinologist and start earning over $107,000 during their first year.