Part 6: Key Personal Qualities of Gastroenterologists

A male gastroenterologist

Let me conclude this six-part series about gastroenterologists with some light yet interesting information I uncovered about the personalities of men and women who practice this medical specialty.

For the complete series of articles, see Six Things You Should Know About Gastroenterologists.

Key Personality Characteristics and Competencies of Gastroenterologists

According to a medical career guide written by the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), the key personal qualities of students considering a career in gastroenterology should include the following: (1)

  • The ability to make decisions under pressure
  • Good communication skills
  • Consultation skills
  • The ability to cope with one's own stress and other people’s
  • Managerial skills
  • Being able to work as a member of a team
  • Good organization skills

A gastroenterologist also requires the following competencies:

  • The ability to perform practical procedures in an emergency setting, as is required in the specialties of surgery and anesthesiology
  • The ability to provide counseling and supportive care in psychologically stressful situations, as is required in psychiatry

Do these qualities and competencies remind you of your gastroenterologist?

A Day in the Life of a Gastroenterologist

In an interview, Dr. Michael Cohen shared some of his life story and professional journey. In response to the question, “How did you decide on gastroenterology as a specialty?” Dr. Cohen replied with the following:

“Gastroenterology was a natural for me. I believe that each specialty tends to attract certain personality types. I noticed that the personality types in GI tended to fit mine: generally laid back compared to certain specialties.”

Dr. Cohen likes how gastroenterology is a blend of both cognitive skills and manual skills (as is required with the colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures). He shared that “I love to work with my hands, and was even an avid woodworker back in the day.”

He also said, “I love seeing office patients, and I love working in the endoscopy lab. I don't think I'd like to do one or the other exclusively, so GI is a perfect blend for me.”

What also helped Dr. Cohen choose gastroenterology is that this specialty encompasses all forms of pathology: from infections to autoimmune disease to neoplasms to metabolic disorders. (A neoplasm is an abnormal growth of tissue in some part of the body, especially as a characteristic of cancer.)

Thus, even though gastroenterology specializes in one organ system, doctors practicing in this field are nonetheless taking full advantage of their medical training.

When asked to offer advice to someone considering a career in gastroenterology, he said, “You have to enjoy working with people, because you'll be interacting with many patients, referring physicians, other specialists, and staff. You should be comfortable working at a brisk pace.”

When asked what he liked most about his career, Dr. Cohen replied: “Patients are great. While you occasionally get someone who is crabby or abusive, I'd say 99% are a pleasure to work with, and make all the hard work worthwhile.”

A doctor and his patient shaking hands

References

1. NHS Medical Careers. Specialty pages > Medicine > Gastroenterology > Personal Characteristics.

2. Santiago A. Interview with a Gastroenterologist - A Day in the Life of a GI Physician. HealthCareers.About.com.


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