A gastroenterologist is a medical professional who specialises in the treatment of patient conditions affecting the liver, intestine and pancreas. This work would be conducted in both the outpatient and inpatient wards. Such a specialist would need to diagnose and treat patients using medicated drugs. This is the medical side of things, but this is a speciality that is typically divided into two aspects, of which the second is surgery. A gastroenterologist surgeon would be concerned with the operation of bile ducts, pancreas and the liver.

The patients you treat would vary, as conditions categorised as being part of gastroenterology can affect many people. The most common problems a gastroenterologist would diagnose and treat are functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome, and there would also be a keen interest in cancers of the gullet and pancreas. The most common procedure that would be used to help diagnose patients is endoscopy, which involves the use of an endoscope to examine the gut.

Work activities

Typical work activities a gastroenterologist would need to carry out include the following:

  • Use the endoscopy technique to find whether patients have an ulcer, cancer or inflammation.
  • Diagnose and treat conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, cancers and liver disease.
  • You would typically choose between being a medical or surgical specialist in this area.
  • Talk with patients to help put them at ease when discovering they are suffering from a medical condition.
  • Work alongside several other medical professionals.
  • Help to teach any new doctors that are starting out.
  • Each day is different, with different procedures and treatments to undertake, and different medical problems to identify and help overcome.
  • You may choose to sub-specialise in areas such as the treatment of bile ducts, liver problems and difficulties affecting the pancreas.
  • Continue to study in order to learn of any new advances in the diagnoses and treatment of patients.

Essential skills

  • A broad knowledge of the medical discipline.
  • Excellent communication skills and a flexible manner.
  • A caring manner when dealing with sensitive subjects.
  • Organised and professional manner.
  • Ability to work as part of a medical team and as an individual.
  • Leadership qualities.
  • Desire to help people overcome their medical problems.
  • Ability to continue studying while you are also working during the day.
  • Critical analytical skills.
  • Able to pass on your wisdom and experience to newcomers entering the profession.