Stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding. This is a short list of what gastroenterologists can do. They are specialists of your GI tract which starts at your mouth then to the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and anus. In addition, they are also trained in disorders of the liver, pancreas, and biliary tree.
At the hospital where I did residency, GI doctors were extremely busy. You couldn’t get into one for months. Their practice was mostly outpatient but with city call in the hospital. Also, they did a ton of procedures.
And in medicine, procedures make bank.
Just how much does a GI doctor make? If you are just starting out of residency and fellowship, you might make $265,000. Add on some years of experience, and you could earn much more.
Indeed, the median salary for all GI physicians was $321,935 with the range being $206,608 to $511,646. A whopping 18% of all GI physicians make more than $500,000 per year!
How do they make so much? They’re specialists of course and they do a lot of procedures. They can go in from your mouth or up from your butt in order to look around, diagnose diseases, or snip off abnormal tissue for further evaluation.
Take colonoscopies for example. The rate of screening colonoscopies for cancer steadily increases. Over 2 million colonoscopies are performed per year. A physician can get reimbursed anywhere from $200 – $600 dollars for that one procedure (variables apply). Time spent = 30 minutes +/- (whereas 30 minutes of seeing a patient in an office can get $96 dollars)
To become a GI specialist, you need 3 years of an Internal Medicine residency followed by 3 years of a GI fellowship.
If you want to specialize even further, there are also these sub-fellowships :
- advanced endoscopy
- esophageal diseases
- inflammatory bowel disease
Some of these sub-fellowships do not require the full 3 years of GI training. So be sure to look at their admissions process carefully and early on in your GI career.
GI doctors are specialists of the digestive system and it’s related organs, diseases, and disorders. It is a procedural field but not the ones you think of when you think of surgeons. GI procedures include endoscopies, colonoscopies, ERCP, MRCP, etc. The demand for these kinds of doctors are always prevalent with the advent of colorectal cancer screening and even newer technology like robotics and virtual medicine. Excellent field, excellent salary.