If there’s one thing you can learn in the 2014 Miami Annual Gastroenterology and Hepatology Symposium, it’s that different liver problems call for different doctors. One could go to a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist. The question is: Which specialist do we need? Which is the “more qualified” choice? Learning about the specializations of each doctor might help in answering that question.
What’s A Gastroenterologist?
Gastroenterologist comes from the prefix “gastḗr,” which is the Greek word for “belly.” These specialists focus on the medication and treatment of the digestive system. It includes the parts of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the mouth, stomach, and intestines.
To become a licensed gastroenterologist, one must complete their pre-medical and medical education, which take about eight years. One must then undergo three years of residency in internal medicine. Lastly, one must finish two to three years of fellowship in gastroenterology. Only after that can one be able to take the board exam.
What’s A Hepatologist?
Hepatologist comes from the prefix “hêpar,” which is the Greek word for “liver.” These specialists treat disorders that affect the liver. The field of hepatology falls under gastroenterology. Its focus is on the liver, the pancreas, and the gallbladder.
To be considered a licensed hepatologist, one must also go through the eight years of pre-medical to medical education and the three-year residency in internal medicine. The difference is that no standardized exam certifies passers. Instead, one must go through a one- or two-year fellowship that shall expose one to various liver disorders.
Gastroenterologists and hepatologists aren’t too different after all. However, choosing one or the other depends on a lot of things—the doctor’s availability, credentials, and experience, to name a few.
It’s up to you to ask about these things and make an informed choice. It’s your health or the health of your loved one on the line. It would be best to choose wisely.