FREE Consult: Master More - Faster - for Impressive Boards ScoresSCHEDULE CALL
FREE Consult: Master More - Faster - for Impressive Boards Scores


How to Become a Gastroenterologist in 2023

Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.

by Danielle Pratt in Residency

Do you want to know how to become a gastroenterologist? Are you interested in a medical career that provides not only patient care but also offers unique opportunities for medical research and a chance to be on the cutting edge of modern medicine?

If so, a career in gastroenterology may be the perfect choice for you. In this blog post, I will explain what a gastroenterologist does and how to become one, even if you’re only in high school.


  • Gastroenterologists treat and diagnose problems affecting the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and pancreas.
  • Gastroenterology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine. Internal medicine residency training is three years, in addition to 3 more years in a gastroenterology fellowship
  • Going to a top medical school may help a bit. However, how you do on your USMLEs (Board) scores and in your med school class ranking will matter more
  • Non-PhD degrees like MBAs and MPHs appear to have no advantage to becoming a gastroenterologist.

Table of Contents

What Are Gastroenterologists?

A gastroenterologist does so much more than just deal with upset stomachs. They are specialized to treat problems in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and pancreas. This includes problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, jaundice, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

The gastroenterologist also performs procedures to view the inside of the gastrointestinal tract. Endoscopies, colonoscopies, and paracenteses are just a few of the procedures a gastroenterologist can perform.

Is a Gastroenterologist a Doctor?

Are gastroenterologists doctors? The answer to this question is yes; gastroenterologists are doctors.

A gastroenterologist is a specialized physician who has completed medical school, usually followed by a three-year residency in internal medicine and a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology. During this time, gastroenterologists train to specialize in treating patients experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. They are also trained to perform procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies.

Physician Gastroenterologist vs. Gastrologist: What’s the Difference?

Since gastroenterologists and gastrologists sound similar, it can be difficult to differentiate them. Gastrologists specialize in conditions affecting the stomach such as GERD or gastroparesis. On the other hand, gastroenterologists specialize in conditions affecting the entire digestive system including the stomach.

In summary,  gastrologists are more specialized since they only focus on the stomach. Gastroenterologists specialize in treating the entire gastrointestinal tract and digestive system.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Gastroenterologist?

Becoming a gastroenterologist is no easy feat and requires considerable time and energy. But if you’re up to the challenge, the results can be gratifying.

At a minimum, it takes a minimum of 14 years after high school to become a gastroenterologist. That includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine residency, and three years of gastroenterology fellowship. Along the way, you’ll have to take various standardized exams, including the SAT, the MCAT, and the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK.

Undergraduate (4 Years)

The first step to becoming a gastroenterologist is entering and completing an undergraduate program. This means taking the SATs and doing well enough to be accepted into a college or university. Once accepted into an undergraduate program, you’ll have to complete a minimum of four years of academic coursework. This includes classes in biology, chemistry, physics, English, and other general education courses.

Medical School (4 Years)

The next step is to take the MCAT, a standardized exam that measures your knowledge and skills in biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. You’ll need to score well on the MCAT for med school acceptance.

You’ll have to complete four years of academic and clinical training during medical school. This includes classes in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and other medical topics. You’ll also have to complete clinical rotations at hospitals and other healthcare facilities to gain hands-on experience.

Internal Medicine Residency (3 Years)

Gastroenterology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine, so you need to do an internal medicine residency in order to become a gastroenterologist. After you’ve completed medical school, you’ll have to match into an internal medicine residency. To do this, you’ll have to take the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams. These exams measure your knowledge and skills in the areas of clinical medicine. Once you’ve passed these exams, you’ll be eligible to apply for residency.

Once you’ve matched into an internal medicine residency, you’ll have to complete three years of clinical training. During this training period, you’ll learn how to evaluate and manage several types of general medical conditions.

After Internal Medicine Residency: Board Certification

Gastroenterologists should be board certified by the American Board of Internal medicine in both internal medicine and the gastroenterology subspecialty. Upon completing your internal medicine residency, you’ll be eligible to take the Internal Medicine Board Exam to become a board-certified internist which is required for you to later become a board-certified gastroenterologist.

Gastroenterology Fellowship (3 Years)

After completing your internal medicine residency, you must complete a gastroenterology fellowship for another three years. During this time, you’ll learn to prevent, diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of gastroenterology conditions. You will gain an in-depth understanding of the field of gastroenterology in addition to performing gastroenterology procedures and clinical research. Upon completing your gastroenterology, you’ll be eligible to take the Internal Medicine Board Exam in gastroenterology to become a board-certified gastroenterologist.

Subspecialty Fellowships for Cardiologists (1-2 years)

Gastroenterology subspecialty fellowships allow physicians to gain subspecialty expertise. Fellowship choices include advanced endoscopy, transplant hepatology, or inflammatory bowel disease. Most gastroenterology fellowships are one year in length, allowing physicians to gain additional experience and hone their skills in a specific area of gastroenterology.

Becoming a gastroenterologist takes a minimum of 14 years after high school. It’s a long and arduous process, but if you’re dedicated and passionate about becoming a gastroenterologist, the rewards are worth it.

How Competitive is it to Become a Gastroenterologist?

Internal medicine is one of the less competitive specialties in matching into a residency program. Each year, thousands of hopeful medical school graduates apply for a limited number of positions in their preferred specialty. The Match system, run by the National Resident Match Program (NRMP), pairs applicants with training programs based on their preferences.

But how competitive is gastroenterology in the US? To answer this question, it is important to look at the unmatched rates of US seniors by specialty. The unmatched rate refers to the percentage of US seniors who applied for a residency program in that specialty but did not get matched. It considers each applicant’s first-choice specialty. So, if you applied to a different specialty as a “backup” but didn’t match because you matched in your first choice, this wouldn’t be included. To learn more about how to maximize your chances at a dream residency through “The Match,” see this article.

In the 2022 Match, graduating US medical school seniors attending MD schools had a 2% unmatched rate to internal medicine. This makes it one of the less competitive specialties.

For more on the competitiveness of gastroenterology relative to other medical specialties, see this article.

Gastroenterologist Annual Compensation

Gastroenterologists have an average annual salary of $453,000. However, this can vary dramatically based on practice setting, specialty training, and experience level.

Gastroenterologist Annual Salary

Gastroenterologists make $453,000 per year on average

How Much Do Gastroenterologists Make an Hour?

You may also be wondering, how much do gastroenterologists make per hour? And how is the balance between time inside vs. outside the hospital for the specialty?

While there isn’t perfect data, we’ve compiled data regarding hours and weeks worked and annual salary for various specialties, including gastroenterology.

Here are the data:

Average Annual SalaryAverage Hourly SalaryOn-Call ScheduleHours/WeekAvg Weeks Worked/Year
Critical Care$369,000.00$114.9166.9
Diagnostic Radiology$437,000.00$170.46Low5844.2
Emergency Medicine$373,000.00$169.59Medium46.447.4
Family Medicine$255,000.00$101.85Medium52.647.6
General Surgery$402,000.00$141.88High59.447.7
Infectious Diseases$260,000.00$101.44High53.4
Internal Medicine$264,000.00$100.81Medium54.947.7
Interventional Radiology$437,000.00
Neurological Surgery (Assistant Prof. Median)$600,500.00$214.96Medium58.2
Obstetrics and Gynecology$336,000.00$123.26Medium5847
Orthopaedic Surgery$557,000.00$207.91Medium5747
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation$322,000.00$147.7645.4
Plastic Surgery$576,000.00$230.77Medium52
Pulmonary Med$353,000.00$119.77Medium61.4
Radiation Oncology (Assistant Prof. Median)$393,734.00$158.36Low51.8
Total Average$381,233.35$147.4453.9

And the estimated physician salary per hour by specialty (gastroenterology highlighted in red):

Gastroenterologist Hourly Salary

Gastroenterologists make $168 an hour on average

Note: when data were unavailable for weeks worked per year, 48 weeks was used as an estimate to calculate the estimated hourly salary.

Getting AOA (Med School Honors) Helps in Becoming a Gastroenterologist

Medical school is one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a doctor. Many medical schools have established Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) branches to recognize top students’ hard work and dedication.

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) is the medical school honors society for students who excel in their studies and demonstrate an exemplary commitment to professionalism and leadership. Each medical school may elect up to 20% of their graduating class to be inducted into AOA.

Induction into AOA is a prestigious honor that carries with it a variety of benefits. AOA members may be eligible for special scholarships and fellowships and can often receive priority consideration for residency positions.

The AOA advantage is particularly notable for the most competitive fields and/or residency programs. The 2022 Match data showed that the match rate for US medical school seniors with AOA membership was 2% greater than that of US seniors without AOA membership in internal medicine. In other words, AOA membership provided a slight advantage to matching into an internal medicine residency.

AOA Membership Advantage for Internal Medicine 2022

AOA membership correlated with a 2% match rate advantage for Internal Medicine in the 2022 Match

See this article for more on AOA medical schools and the importance of class rank for matching.

Do You Need to Attend a Top School to Become a Gastroenterologist?

When pursuing a career in gastroenterology, attending a top medical school can make a difference in matching into your desired specialty. According to a survey of program directors, over half of those surveyed reported considering applicants’ med school reputation when considering whom to interview, giving it an importance score of 3.8 out of 5.

Moreover, graduating from a school in the top 40 for NIH funding is associated with a 1% increase in the likelihood of matching into internal medicine as a field. This is potentially because top medical schools have more resources and access to clinical experience, which can help prepare students for the rigors of the specialty.

That said, it is important to remember that the name of the school alone does not guarantee success in any field. While attending a top medical school may have advantages, it is ultimately up to the individual to make the most of the opportunities presented. And while there is an advantage to being from a more prestigious institution, one’s record at the school will matter much more, including things like USMLE scores, class rank, and letters of recommendation.

Top 40 med school Internal Medicine match 2022

Graduating from a medical school ranked in the top 40 by NIH funding correlated with a 1% match rate advantage for Internal Medicine in the 2022 Match

Does an MPH or MBA Help You Become a Gastroenterologist?

Medical training is long and arduous. Remarkably, many students consider completing other degrees before, after, or even while pursuing their medical studies. Degrees such as Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) may seem attractive to potential gastroenterology residents due to their additional qualifications. But do these additional degrees give applicants an edge in the residency application process?

The truth is that having an additional degree may not matter as much as one thinks. We crunched the numbers on the match rate for graduating students from MD schools for those with non-PhD other degrees vs. those that did not have a second degree. In internal medicine, the match rate was the same(0% advantage)  for those with degrees like an MPH or MBA. This implies that having a second degree that isn’t a Ph.D. doesn’t appear to help your chances of matching into internal medicine.

Internal Medicine other degree MBA MPH advantage 2022

Having another degree like an MBA or MPH correlated with a 0% match rate disadvantage for Internal Medicine in the 2022 Match

It’s important to note that this study only looked at the overall match rates of medical students with another degree. The data doesn’t look at the type of degree, the school it was obtained from, and the quality of the applicant’s experience and credentials.

Having a second degree could open up some additional career opportunities. For instance, having an MPH or MBA may prove beneficial for those looking to go into healthcare administration or research.

Concluding Thoughts

Becoming a gastroenterologist is a challenging but rewarding career path. It is perfect for those who love physiology, being decisive, and working as part of a team in intense situations. With hard work, dedication, and a desire to help others, gastroenterologists can make a real difference in the world of healthcare.

Looking for an Internal Medicine Residency Advisor?

Looking for an internal medicine residency advisor? Want help writing your personal statement? Need effective strategies for interviewing? Do you have things on your application – e.g., low USMLE scores, failed USMLEs, no research, IMG status, or others – you need help overcoming?

Be sure to check out our Residency Advisor service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.