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From Indianapolis, Indiana, USA:

My son had been seeing an endocrinologist, but that doctor has left his practice. He recommended a pediatrician that specializes in diabetes who says she is a diabetologist. I am a little unsure what this type of doctor is. From what I gather, there is no formal training required or certification. Is this a common practice? I would be most comfortable having my son seen with an endocrinologist. What is your opinion?


The answer to your question is probably straightforward. An "endocrinologist" is a physician (MD or DO) who specializes in hormonal/metabolic conditions that primarily relate to the endocrine glandular system. Diabetes is such a condition. So, "all" endocrinologists have been trained in the management of diabetes mellitus. A "diabetologist" is an INFORMAL designation for such a sub-specialty endocrinology caregiver who might LIMIT their practice to diabetes only (or primarily) rather than also to include general endocrine conditions. [Similarly, some endocrinologists may limit their practice to mostly thyroid conditions ("thyroidologists") or might exclude diabetes, for example.]

Ideally, you want your sub-specialty care in endocrinology/diabetes to be performed by someone who is "Board-trained" (which means Board certified or eligible by the American Board of Medicine or Pediatrics). So, I presume that your former endocrinologist was actually a pediatric endocrinologist, but this could have been an adult internist with endocrinology training - but not necessarily nuanced or certified in pediatric endocrinology. If that doctor has left the practice and now recommends that your child follow up with a pediatric "diabetologist," then what is meant is a pediatric endocrinologist.

Any confusion I might have is why perhaps your child with diabetes was not seen by a pediatric endocrinologist/diabetologist in the first place. Nevertheless, why is it that the doctor that is leaving is not referring you to an associate? There are world-class pediatric endocrinologists in Indianapolis at Riley Children's Hospital and IU-PUI.


Original posting 7 Jun 2010
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Last Updated: Monday June 07, 2010 10:58:44
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