What is a Proctologist? Everything You Need to Know

proctologist talking with patient

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J.P. Pressley
J.P. Pressley104
Writer, Entrepreneur, Jocky-Nerd/Nerdy-Jock

It can be hard to keep up with all the types of “ologists” there are in the world. There are neurologists and cardiologists, this and that-ologists, something-ologists — the list goes on. Some of these titles are pretty self-explanatory, like zoologist or typologist. Others, like proctologists, aren’t quite so cut and dry. As it pertains to the latter type of ologists, it’s easy to take the safe bet and just assume that it’s some kind of doctor. But even then, what is a proctologist and what exactly does one do?

What kind of doctor is a proctologist?

If assumed a proctologist is a kind of doctor, you would be correct. And if you took it a step further and assumed that proctologists worked within the realm of something called proctology, you’d be right once again. But unless you’d heard of proctologists and/or proctology before or otherwise know enough Greek to know what πρόκτος means, that’s probably where you’re perfect streak ended.

So what is proctology?

Proctology is the medical field that focuses on the structure and diseases of the anus, colon and rectrum. Proctologists are thus the doctors specializing in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases in these areas, hence why they are also known as colorectal surgeons.

These surgeons work as part of medical teams that may often include general practitioners, anesthesiologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, nurses and even dietitians. They’ll consult with these colleagues as well as the patient in office settings and perform surgeries at hospitals, medical centers and surgical centers. Like most physicians, proctologists have long and irregular working hours. If on call, they must be available to attend to a patient at any time, day or night.

Though, given the areas of the body it pertains to, people often find it embarrassing and just plain difficult to discuss proctological problems they may be experiencing, proctologists are able to assure patients that the issues aren’t anything otherworldly while also explaining the great importance of scheduling an appointment to discuss concerns as opposed to ignoring them. After all, these surgeons don’t want patients to experience conditions such as hemorrhoids, constipation, gallstones or other such things any more than the patient does.

Education requirements for becoming a proctologist.

The road to becoming a proctologist is long and tiresome. As is the case for becoming any kind of medical doctor, the schooling involved is far beyond any four-year degree and even most two-year masters programs. Yet while the road is long and each person’s path will be different from another’s, CareerAddict has compiled the education requirements into the following five, seemingly simple steps:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree – While no specific degree is required to enter medical school, it’s advised that you pursue a degree which contains science courses — such as biology, physics and chemistry — that are applicable to the medical field.

  2. Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and secure a letter of recommendation from your undergraduate school.

  3. Enroll in medical school and earn a medical degree – Being accepted into medical school is no easy task. Competition for places is so fierce that top scoring students are often only guaranteed consideration. Graduating is even harder. Make sure you don’t overlook the rigor of this test.

  4. Complete a 2 to 4-year residency program in general medicine.

  5. Complete further training in proctology – Just as up and coming pediatricians must work under an established pediatricians for a time, this further training for aspiring proctologists usually involves working under an experienced and licensed proctologist.

After all of this, you still aren’t done, however. To actually practice, you must obtain a medical license in your respective state. And while the exact licensing requirements vary by state, it is mandatory throughout the nation that prospective licensees hold an accredited medical degree and pass a licensing exam.

Proctologist salary based on years of experience.

As was just detailed, becoming a proctologist is no easy task. But if the drive to help other human beings live a healthier and thus more comfortable life isn’t always enough to motivate you along the way, perhaps the salary will.

According to Salary Expert, salary averages based on years in the field are as follows:

  • 1-3 years of experience: $246,796

  • 4-7 years of experience: $380,708

  • 8+ years of experience: $525,569

You shouldn’t do anything in life for the money. But this salaries may certainly help make dealing with the parts of the body that proctologists deal with a little easier.

5 things proctologists want you to know:

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a proctologist or not, for your own physical health it is important that you take the following five things into account. You don’t want to be one of the people who suffers physically because of an unwillingness to get your anus, colon, or rectrum checked.

1. If you’re over 50-years-old, you need a colonoscopy.

Be it via a commercial, a sitcom, friend or family, colleagues or some other means, you’ve probably heard this by now. Don’t ignore it! You’ve heard this before for a reason. A colonoscopy can not just detect but also prevent colon cancer. The pros outweigh the cons here.

2. Don’t stay on the toilet longer than necessary.

Remember studying gravity back in grade school? Well here’s a fun fact about gravity and toilets that they don’t tell you there: when on the can too long, the toilet effectively operates as a gravity sink and your hemorrhoids can engorge and swell from this. Not fun. Probably best to browse social media and news articles somewhere else.

3. Pregnancy inevitably changes things.

No two people are the same. It’s normal for women, especially after having a child, to have skin tags, hemorrhoids and swollen tissues that remain that friends may not have. This is typical. That being said, if you’re concerned about how a change looks and/or feels, contact a proctologist.

4. Pain and bleeding are definitely not normal.

Don’t just push through. Pain and bleeding are too of the most common complaints proctologists hear about. Yet while sometimes it could be something as simple as hemorrhoids, it could also be an abnormality like blood in the stool. So get evaluated.

5. Colon and rectal cancers are among the most preventable.

Get checked if something is off, don’t put it off due to embarrassment. You know that saying, “I would die of embarrassment”? If you don’t get checked, you could very well do just that.

So now you know yet another “ologist”! Better yet, you know how to become one and when you should see one in order to live the healthiest life you can. But if you think you might want to delve in a medical field outside of proctology and become an optometrist, pharmacist, physical therapist, or something else, be sure to check out other FGB articles!

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J.P. Pressley is a writer, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and an asthmatic former two-sport college athlete (basketball and track). Is he a jockey-nerd or a nerdy-jock? The world may never know. You can learn more about him at his personal website.