In most places, education is the most important requirement to become a hormone specialist. A hormone specialist is a kind of medical doctor. Specific medical training requirements vary by location, but hormone doctors usually must complete an undergraduate degree with a heavy emphasis on science; a medical degree program; a residency in internal medicine; and a fellowship in endocrinology, which is the study of human hormones and glands. In nearly all cases, it will take at least 10 years of post-secondary education to become a hormone specialist.
Getting into medical school is always the first hurdle. Medical training is competitive all over the world, with often only the brightest students earning places. You can increase your chances of getting into medical school by working hard in your undergraduate degree while emphasizing courses such as biology and chemistry. Setting aside adequate time to prepare your medical school application materials is also essential.
Hormone specialists usually are rare, with many communities having only one or two. As such, not many fellowship programs exist — schools and teaching hospitals will often offer only one spot for a student hoping to become a hormone specialist, if they offer any at all. It usually is wise to anticipate the competition for those positions well in advance.
Start by getting into the best medical school that you can. Name does not always make a difference in terms of the quality of education you receive, but prestige matters when competing for limited resources later. If you are serious about hoping to become a hormone specialist, it usually is best to attend the most highly ranked medical school you can.
In most places, medical students undertake a broad survey of internal medicine while in school. It usually is not possible to specialize or major in any specific areas. Just the same, it is important to pay special attention to your endocrinology lessons.
Meet with your endocrinology professors, and develop a rapport with them. Letting them know that you are interested in a career in hormone disorders can make you privy to additional resources and opportunities that you might not have found on your own. Expert professors are also well-suited to write recommendations on your behalf to residency and endocrinology fellowship programs.
Doctors — including endocrinologists — hone their skills in residency programs after graduation. To become a hormone specialist, you will need to look for residency programs in internal medicine, often with the age group you are hoping to work with when you open your practice. Pediatrics, family medicine and geriatrics are some of the most popular residency choices for people who go into endocrinology. It usually is not possible to get a residency in hormone studies specifically.
More directed training comes during the fellowship — the final step needed to become a hormone specialist. Most of these fellowships are offered through medical schools and teaching hospitals and are designed to give emerging doctors a chance to do hands-on work under the direct supervision of more senior doctors. Once your fellowship is complete, you usually must pass your jurisdiction’s board exam for endocrinology to become a hormone specialist.