Proctologist – Colon and Rectal Surgeon: have detailed knowledge and skill in surgery of the intestinal tract, rectum, anal canal, and perianal area.
They are able to deal with other organs and tissues (liver, urinary and female reproductive system) involved with primary intestinal disease.
Length of training: 6 years
Number of residency programs: 50
Number of residents in training: 61
Number in U.S. currently Board Certified in specialty: 1,153
First year median compensation: $158,000
Mean number of hours per week in patient care activities: 60
Training consists of 5 years in a general surgery residency followed by 1 year specializing in colon and rectal surgery.
Most physicians only found out about this specialty after arriving to medical school. One proctologist student states that in this field you are curing patients and not just palliating them, and patients were very appreciative of their work.
You will find that most surgeons considered other surgical specialties but discounted them for a number of reasons, “overcrowded” (urology, ophthalmology, and general surgery) or “too depressing” (neurosurgery and thoracic surgery).
Also these surgeons do not want to practice in a specialty that involved primarily an office setting or “long-standing problems that cannot be cured.”
Typical Proctologist Schedule
As a surgeon you are going to have a long working day which begins as early as 6:30 AM and continuing into the evening. The patient population is primarily middle-aged to elderly and a clinical mix of 60% anorectal problems and 40% colon problems.
“On call” varies depending on your particular practice arrangement. Some colon and rectal surgeons are responsible for after-hours calls every other night and every other weekend; one is always on call for colon and rectal problems through the emergency room, but generally sees them in his office for a regular visit.
Overall, there are very few night calls as a proctologist.
If You’re Interested
Wait until later in your career to make a firm decision about this specialty. You will need to first consider general surgery and see if you like the colon and rectal problems which you will be exposed to before committing yourself.
Otherwise, you will be encouraged to pursue this specialty because it is a “good uncrowded specialty.”