The average median gastroenterologist salary in the United States is reported to be about $335,000 per year or about $161 per hour. The lowest 10th percentile of the profession reported wages of $235,000 or less per year which is about $113 or less per hour. The top 10th percentile of the workforce reported salaries of about $460,000 or more per year which is about $221 or more per hour. The middle 50% of gastroenterologists reported a salary between $282,000 and $401,000 per year or $136 and $192 per hour. Many factors determine how much a gastroenterologist will make. Their earnings will depend on years of experience, geographical location of work, type of establishment and skill level.
In addition to their base salary, gastroenterologists also have very attractive benefits. Benefits such as social security, pension, 401K, paid time off, health benefits and bonuses can mean that, the median total compensation package for a gastroenterologist is about $443,000 per annum. A gastroenterologist salary is one of the highest in the healthcare industry.
Job description of a gastroenterologist
What do they do? A gastroenterologist is a specialist physician that specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases of the digestive system.
They often work initially in consultation with patients to better understand what is wrong with the patient. They then perform physical examinations as part of their diagnosis. Their patients are often referred by primary physicians and as such they often consult with the patient’s primary physician in diagnosing problems with the digestive system.
They are often experts in the movement of food through the digestive system and the use of nutrition by the body. They treat such conditions as colon cancer, stomach ulcers, colon polyps, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, severe constipation and gallbladder disease. They are trained to deal with any disease or medical condition that hinders the normal operation of the digestive system.
They are trained to perform surgery and very often perform surgery as part of diagnoses and treatment of gastric conditions. Gastroenterologists are also experts in endoscopy. This is the use of a tube with light and a camera at the end that is inserted inside the body to see the inside of organs. The gastroenterologist uses this to inspect the insides of the digestive system in order to make diagnosis of problems.
They often have their own private practices or work in specialist clinics with just a few team of doctors. This means they sometimes also perform administrative tasks such as hiring and management of staff as well as performing functions necessary to run a business.
How to become a gastroenterologist
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Gastroenterologists are physicians with a specialty. They are subspecialists in internal medicine. To become a gastroenterologist, one is required to obtain a bachelor’s degree, complete an accredited medical degree program, undertake three years of residency training in internal medicine and then undertake an additional 2 -3 years fellowship training in gastroenterology.
High school students wanting to study medicine should take classes in science fields such as chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics. You should work hard to obtain very good grades and pass well on standardized tests.
The next step is to get into college and complete a four year bachelor’s degree. Although entrance into medical school does not require a specific major, you should major in science related majors such as biology, chemistry and physics. This might give you a slight advantage over those from other majors. Again make sure your grades are top notch because medical school admission is a very competitive one. Whatever your major, medical school admission does require coursework in certain science subjects such as biology, chemistry, anatomy etc. So make sure you take classes in these subjects in college.
You should sit and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in your junior year in college. Good scores on this test is very important. Your medical school application package will include college transcripts, MCAT scores, letters of recommendation and any extracurricular activities from high school and college. You will also be required to attend extensive interviews so you need to prepare for that too.
Medical school will last for four years. During this period, you will mostly take classroom and laboratory based lessons as well as some basic clinical experience. After graduating medical school you will receive your medical degree.
After graduate school you will be required to do a least a one-year internship. After your internship, you will do a three-year supervised residency training in internal medicine. After you complete the residency, you will be required to do a minimum of two years fellowship in gastroenterology. After you complete this requirement and pass some written and practical exams, you can then call yourself a gastroenterologist.
As you can see, the process is a very long one and only a few students are suited for this program. It involves enormous hard work and sacrifices to get into this field.
Gastroenterologist salary in other countries (Canada, UK and Australia
In Australia, gastroenterologists earn between AU$150,000 and AU$205,000 per year. This figure can however rise dramatically when benefits are added. It is also mostly higher for those in private practice.
Those working in the United Kingdom (UK) have an average salary of about £113,000 per year. The range is between £85,000 and £130,000 depending on many factors such as type of employment. Benefits and bonuses can drive the wage much higher.
In Canada, the average salary is about CA$316,000 per year. The range is between CA$115,000 and CA$350,000 per year.
Verdict on gastroenterologist salary
Those employed in this field have some of the highest salaries in this field. It takes a lot to qualify into this specialty and very few people achieve it. It is also a very expensive training process. Considering all these, the high gastroenterologist salaries are very much justified.