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Subspecialty Careers: Highlights about Careers in Internal Medicine: Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism

The Discipline
From the Greek endon, "in, inner, or within" and krinein, "to separate or put apart." A term contrived to describe those glands that "put apart" and secrete substances that are used within the body.

Endocrinology is the diagnosis and care of disorders of the endocrine system. The principle endocrine problems include goiter, thyroid nodules, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, hyper- and hypocalcemia, adrenal cortex dysfunction, endocrine hypertension, gonadal disorders, disorders of sodium and water balance, manifestations of pituitary disorders, disorders of bone metabolism, and hyperlipidemia. While not strictly an endocrine disorder, obesity is considered part of the spectrum of endocrinology because it often enters into the differential diagnosis of endocrine disease and is a major element in the management of type 2 diabetes. Prevention focuses on the complications of obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemias, thyroid disease, and the iatrogenic effects of glucocorticoids.

Procedures
Endocrinologists are expected to perform dexamethasone suppression tests, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) stimulation tests, home blood glucose monitoring and fine needle thyroid biopsies. Additionally, endocrinologists commonly order and interpret bone densitometry tests, fasting and postprandial glucose determinations, glycohemoglobin concentrations, imaging studies of the sella turcica, serum gonadotropin concentrations, lipid profiles, and thyroid function studies.

Training
Endocrinology fellowship training requires two years of accredited training beyond general internal medicine residency. Of the two years, a minimum of 12 months must include clinical training in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of endocrine diseases.

Certification
The American Board of Internal Medicine offers certification in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism.

Major Professional Societies

Major Publications

Back to July 2010 Issue of IMpact

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