Is becoming a gastroenterologist right for me?
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How to become a Gastroenterologist
Between thirteen and fourteen years of education and training are required to become a gastroenterologist. Individuals interested should first attain a pre-med degree (e.g. a science program such as biology or chemistry) and pass the MCAT exam.
A three-year residency program in general internal medicine will then need to be taken, and upon completion the internist may continue on to specialize in gastroenterology by entering a gastroenterology fellowship.
A gastroenterology fellowship is an intense two- or three-year program, where the physician receives specialized training in diseases and conditions of the digestive tract. Organizations such as the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the American College of Gastroenterology, and the American Gastroenterological Association oversee gastroenterology fellowships to ensure a high quality of education and training.
These physicians are then considered 'board eligible' and can take the gastroenterology certification exam, which is administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine or by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. Physicians who successfully complete this examination are Board Certified in gastroenterology.
Physicians who meet the requirements of the American College of Physicians or the American College of Gastroenterology will receive special recognition from these organizations. These physicians (known as 'fellows') can include the initials FACP (Fellow of the American College of Physicians) or FACG (Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology) after their names.
It is important to note that gastroenterologists do not have training in nutrition or most reactions to foods. And though the digestive tract is the single most concentrated area of immune activity in the body, gastroenterologists have no special training in immunology.