Growth Trends for Related Jobs

What is a Proctologist?

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The Butt of Jokes, Diseases of the Gastrointestinal Tract Are No Laughing Matter

A colorectal surgeon, formerly known as a proctologist, is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Although these specialists often work long hours, their ability to schedule office hours and surgical patients on a non-emergency basis means they can enjoy a good balance between work and family.

Job Description

Colorectal surgeons, or colon and rectal surgeons, perform screening and diagnostic tests, including ultrasounds, colonoscopies and flexible sigmoidoscopies. They perform surgeries to assist in the recovery from conditions such as diverticulitis, bowel incontinence, colorectal polyps, hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Education Requirements

Colorectal surgery is a medical specialty that requires years of education and training. The first step is earning a medical degree from an accredited college of medicine or osteopathy. The degree requires four years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree and includes courses in advanced life sciences, pharmacology, and medical law and ethics, as well as laboratory courses and supervised clinical rotations through various specialties.

After medical school, the aspiring colorectal surgeon must complete a five- to six-year residency in general surgery, followed by one to two years as a resident in the specialty.

All states require physicians to hold a license to practice. Board certification in a specialty is optional but desirable, as it demonstrates a high level of education and professional experience. Colorectal surgeons can be certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS), which requires successful completion of oral and written exams as well as documentation of clinical and surgical experience.

Re-certification is required every 10 years. Colorectal surgeons must also acquire continuing education credits on an annual basis, which are offered through professional conferences, medical schools and large medical centers.

About the Industry

Colorectal surgeons are trained to diagnose and treat conditions that patients may find embarrassing or difficult to talk about, such as hemorrhoids, itching and painful bowel movements. These specialists can assure patients that they’ve heard it all and that it’s important to schedule an appointment to discuss concerns rather than ignore them.

A colorectal surgeon works as part of a health care team that may include general practitioners, anesthesiologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, nurses and dietitians.

Colorectal surgeons consult with patients and other physicians in an office setting and perform surgery in hospitals, medical centers and surgical centers.

Years of Experience

The average salary for a colorectal surgeon is $379,054 annually. Salaries vary according to geographic location, board certification and years of experience, among other factors. Some averages based on longevity in the field include:

  • 1–3 years of experience: $246,796
  • 4–7 years of experience: $379,054
  • 8+ years of experience: $523, 286

Job Growth Trend

Physicians in all specializations, including colorectal surgery, will continue to be in demand, although job opportunities vary according to geographic location. Increased population, aging of the baby boomer generation and advances in medical research contribute to the upward trend.


Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.

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