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Summary of occupation

Gastroenterologists are physicians who deal with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and associated organs - liver, biliary tract and pancreas.

A great majority of their work involves endoscopic procedures. These specialists deal with acute and chronic conditions, which can be life-threatening.

This is a relatively small-sized occupation. The majority of gastroenterologists practice in the metropolitan area.

ANZSCO description: Investigates, diagnoses and treats diseases and disorders of the human liver, stomach and associated organs. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Internal Medical Specialist, Medical Practitioner, Physician, Specialist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A gastroenterologist needs:

  • a broad knowledge of gastrointestinal anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology;
  • a sound understanding of microbiology, oncology, nutrition and immunology;
  • to understand the psychological aspects of the disease as symptoms often impact on the patient's lifestyle;
  • procedural skills;
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills;
  • compassion and empathy;
  • self-motivation and the willingness to commit to ongoing study.
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Working conditions

Most gastroenterologists spend the majority of their time in outpatient consultations; however, they also carryout procedures and spend time on hospital wards. There is a lot of direct patient contact, and relationships with patients can extend from the short to long term. Gastroscopy, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy account for a large part of their procedural work, allowing the gastroenterologist to visualise pathology, obtain biopsies, and perform therapeutic interventions.

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Salary details

On average, gastroenterologists can expect to earn between $2 884.61 and $7 692.31 per week ($150 000 and $400 000 per year) depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a gastroenterologist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase. ​ 

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Tools and technologies

Gastroenterologists employ a range of technical procedures for the purposes of diagnoses and therapeutic intervention. It is likely these procedures will become more numerous and effective as technology progresses.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a gastroenterologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in gastroenterology.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in gastroenterology, doctors can apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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