Gastroenterology Jobs in 2023

Tracking demand, practice changes & salaries for gastroenterologists

With an aging population and more people with health insurance coverage, the United States needs more physicians, including gastroenterologists to care for the digestive tract, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The AAMC reported in 2021 that there were 15,678 gastroenterologists practicing in the United States with 14,116 in patient care. 

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in changes for gastroenterologists. A 2020 study in Gastroenterology found 76 percent of GI clinics either partly or fully closed during the early months of the pandemic. About half switched to telemedicine, and 74 percent modified their schedules, reducing the number of attending physicians at the hospital. Fellows still evaluated inpatients, either in person or electronically. Forty-five percent of interventional endoscopy training programs stopped their educational activities.

The pandemic created a backlog for patients needing endoscopic GI procedures, according to an article in Becker’s ASC Review. Some centers are currently expanding to enable more people to get the scopes they need. That may lead to gastroenterology jobs.

Adding to the demand for gastroenterologists, the GASTROSWOT project reports the frequency and complexity of GI diseases are increasing, including cancers, and many technical innovations are in the works.

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Changes in Gastroenterology Practice

Consolidation of gastroenterology practices and acquisitions by private equity firms are growing. Groups with 100 or so physicians are better able to spread fixed costs and generate the funds needed to invest in people and systems that can help deliver higher-quality care. Private equity offers a way to retain an independent practice and avoid health system employment.

More procedures are being done through interventional endoscopy, including intraluminal resections for cancer, bypass procedures, structural reshaping, and creating continuity in the gastrointestinal tract.

Another area of opportunity for gastroenterologists is the GI hospitalist service, reported Gyanprakash A. Ketwaroo, MD, MSc, an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, and an associate editor for GI & Hepatology News.

Gastroenterologists Impacting Colorectal Cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that, excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. ACS estimates that the number of colorectal cancer cases in 2023 will include nearly 107,000 new cases of colon cancer and nearly 46,000 new cases of rectal cancer. In addition, 52,550 people in the U.S. are expected to die from colorectal cancer this year.

While colorectal cancer rates have been dropping for older patients in recent years, the incidence rates have been growing in younger patients, according to the ACS.

The ACS also issued a new recommendation to start colorectal cancer screening, by colonoscopy or a fecal immunochemical test, at age 45 for people at average risk, which is five years earlier than previous guidance.

Gastroenterologists can diagnose colorectal cancers at an earlier stage, find colon polyps early so they can be safely removed, and help to prevent colorectal cancers.

GI physicians and their colleagues are encouraged to increase awareness of these conditions during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, and throughout the year.

Supply and Demand Driving Salaries for Gastroenterologists

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports an expected shortfall of as many as 124,000 physicians by 2034, with as many as 13,400 medical specialists needed. By 2034, people age 65 and older will require up to 407,300 physicians.

A shortage of gastroenterology physicians and other factors have led to high average salaries for gastroenterologists. 

The Merritt Hawkins’ 2022 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives reported that, despite the drop in overall demand caused by the pandemic, the average starting salary for gastroenterologists was $486,000 in 2021/2022, with a high of $600,000, also estimating that gastroenterologists generate nearly $3 million in hospital revenue. The report also indicates that gastroenterology ranks number one in absolute demand among all provider specialties.

A Becker's report on GI Pay in 2022 indicated the average annual compensation for self-employed, mid-career gastroenterologists was more than $500,000, with gastroenterology being the sixth highest-paying specialty in 2022. 

Locum tenens gastroenterologists can also earn an excellent income. Staff Care recruiters report that many locum gastroenterology jobs offer regular Monday-to-Friday schedules, with pay as high as $305 an hour, including housing and travel reimbursements.

Locum GI positions enable a gastroenterologist to experience practicing in different settings across the country while offering a chance to explore and enjoy the best of various communities. With gastroenterologists in high demand, the opportunities for permanent and locum tenens gastroenterology jobs will remain abundant.

Learn more about locum tenens careers or contact a recruiter to get started. STAFF CARE has dozens of locum gastroenterology opportunities throughout the U.S. 

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