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Choosing Your Endocrinologist

What does an endocrinologist do?

If your doctor suspects you have a hormone imbalance, they may refer you to an endocrinologist. This is a special type of doctor who’s trained to diagnose problems with your endocrine glands. These glands release hormones into your body. They include your:

  • thyroid
  • parathyroid glands
  • pituitary gland
  • ovaries
  • testes
  • pancreas
  • adrenal glands
  • hypothalamus 

Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist if you have diabetes. They may also refer you to one to help diagnose or treat other conditions, such as:

  • infertility
  • menopause
  • growth problems
  • thyroid disease

What should you look for?

It’s important to consider a few factors when you’re choosing an endocrinologist, including their:

  • qualifications
  • areas of focus
  • eligibility for insurance coverage

Ask your primary doctor, family members, or friends for recommendations. You can also research different specialists online.


Make sure your endocrinologist is board-certified. That means they’ve been certified by a medical specialty board. For example, the American Board of Internal Medicine requires doctors to complete a special exam before becoming certified in the field of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism.

Areas of focus

When you’re researching endocrinologists, pay attention to their areas of focus. This can help you match their expertise to your needs. For example, if you need help managing diabetes, look for someone who focuses on that disease. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website allows you to search for specialists by area of focus.

Insurance coverage

It’s also important to learn if your health insurance covers the endocrinologist. Once you have someone in mind, call your insurance company and ask if they’re in your network of coverage. In some cases, your insurance company might need you to meet certain criteria before they’ll cover the cost of specialty services. 

What questions should you ask?

Finding a board-certified endocrinologist that’s covered by your insurance is an important first step. Then, consider interviewing them to learn if you’ll be comfortable working together. If you’re uncomfortable discussing your condition or lifestyle with them, it will be hard to build a trusting relationship.

For example, if you’re visiting an endocrinologist for diabetes-related concerns, you’ll need to talk to them about your weight, eating habits, and efforts to manage your condition. Ask them how they plan to help you control your weight and blood sugar. Look for someone whose approach fits your needs.

You should also ask them how often you’ll get to see them and when you’ll see other members of the staff. It’s helpful to find one who’s accessible when you need them. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and others may be qualified to help you with certain issues.

The takeaway

Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist to help manage diabetes or other conditions. Take some time to research your options. Look for a specialist who’s board-certified and has expertise in a relevant subject area. Then, meet your prospective endocrinologist in person to learn if their approach is a good fit for you. 

Content licensed from:

Written by: Lynda Lampert
Medically reviewed on: Aug 10, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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