A physician with specialized and formal training in treating diseases of the digestive system. It takes a lot of training to become a gastroenterologist. First, a person must have a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.
). After medical school (which is four years of training), the physician must complete a three-year residency program in internal medicine and then a gastroenterology fellowship, which is an additional 2 to 3 years. In total, a gastroenterologist will have about 5 to 6 years of training after medical school. They are truly considered the experts for diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system.
Since the liver is part of the digestive system, gastroenterologists are well trained in treating many forms of liver disease, including hepatitis. However, physicians who have additional training and experience with liver disease are called hepatologists.
Physicians who have completed an internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship are able to take a special exam that further demonstrates specialized knowledge. Those who complete and pass this exam are recognized as board certified gastroenterologists.