Nav: Home | Inst. | Burs. | Careers
Gastroenterologists study, diagnose and treat diseases of the stomach, liver and intestines. They are medical doctors who have specialized in gastroenterology.

Two of the most common diseases which they need to treat are hepatitis, inflammation of the liver caused by viral infections or medication, and liver cirrhosis, which is usually related to alcoholism. There are three kinds of hepatitis, Hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis C was only discovered recently and was previously known as Non-A or Non-B Hepatitis. Symptoms of this disease include fatigue, lethargy, jaundice (yellow pigmentation of the skin which is found in all three types of hepatitis), itching, abdominal pain and fever. It is transmitted via the blood but there can also be a very slow rate of sexual transmission. Blood for transfusion purposes is always screened for Hepatitis-C, as for HIV, before being used. All three forms of Hepatitis can be treated, but if not dealt with in time, they can cause cirrhosis and permanent scarring of the liver.

Gastroenterologists are qualified to perform endoscopies, which enable the visualisation of the internal organs through the use of a flexible instrument inserted through the mouth or rectum. An endoscope utilises a video chip and strobe light to capture an image which is then displayed on a video monitor. This allows inspection of the entire inner surface of the organ being examined. This procedure is mainly used to diagnose abdominal pain and bleeding which are usually caused by inflammation within the stomach, ulcers or heartburn. This type of inspection of the lower digestive tract is called a colonoscopy and is frequently utilised to remove polyps (small growths) that may become cancerous over time.

Other diseases treated by gastroenterologists are diarrhoea, ulcers, colitis, constipation, lactose intolerance, gallstones and heartburn, etc.

Satisfying Aspects
- working as part of the medical profession in a specialized field
- rendering a service to the community
- helping to prevent serious illness by treating a patient timeously

Demanding aspects
- working over weekends and holidays
- not always being able to treat patients in time
- being on call and having to respond to emergencies

- care for others, able to put patients at ease
- be patient, calm and tactful
- be accurate and meticulous
- be responsible and ethical
- have good communication skills

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who would naturally be given preference.

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN:
- Theoretical training: 6 years
- Student internship: 1 year
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Post-graduate study for specialization as a gastroenterologist: 4 years.

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a gastroenterologist, at, e.g. Wits, US, UCT. The candidate must:

- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

Registration: On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a gastroenterologist.

- private practice
- hospitals and other health care facilities
- medical schools
- clinics

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300
Fax: (012) 328-5120