Letter from the Editor

Looking for glimpses of normalcy


Dear colleagues,

I’m thrilled to introduce the first edition of The New Gastroenterologist in 2022! The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and as physicians, we are exhausted. The past year brought glimpses of normalcy, but these were ultimately eclipsed by the precipitous surge of the very contagious Omicron variant, once again overwhelming health systems and threatening our daily routines. We will keep on, doing our best to protect our patients and our families, with the hope for an eventual transition ‘from pandemic to endemic.’

Due to the pandemic, telemedicine has now been firmly cemented as a cornerstone of clinical care, which Dr. Naresh Gunaratnam (Huron Gastroenterology, Ann Arbor, Mich.) discusses in our DHPA Private Practice Perspectives article for the quarter. Telemedicine boasts many benefits and while it will never be adopted entirely in lieu of in-person visits, it is a tool that should remain an option for years to come in the appropriate subset of patients.

Dr. Vijaya Rao, gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago

Dr. Vijaya Rao

Gastroenterology has historically been a male-dominated field, but the face of the field is changing as over one-third of gastroenterology fellows are now women. Gender-based pay inequity is a very real but seldom discussed issue in gastroenterology. Dr. Lilani Perera (Advocate Aurora Health, Grafton, Wis.) and Dr. Bertha Toriz (MNGI Digestive Health, Bloomington, Minn.) review this important topic and offer tangible solutions that can ensure equity in compensation in the future.

Similarly, progress is needed for pregnant and post-partum gastroenterologists, especially trainees. Dr. Lauren Feld (University of Washington, Seattle) and Dr. Loren Galler Rabinowitz (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston) present valuable perspectives on challenges faced by early career gastroenterologists and trainees; specifically how important changes to parental leave policies can facilitate the transition of new parents returning to work.

The lack of financial knowledge is common among physicians. Our finance piece for the quarter is written by Dr. Latifat Alli-Akintade (Kaiser Permanente, South Sacramento (Calif.) Medical Center), a gastroenterologist who is passionate about educating others on money management. She discusses how financial independence is one of the keys to mitigating long term burnout as a physician.

The management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in pregnancy can be difficult to navigate with the litany of therapeutic options. Our “In Focus” feature for February is a fantastic piece written by Dr. Rishika Chugh and Dr. Uma Mahadevan (UCSF), who provide a comprehensive multifaceted approach, discussing the importance of health care maintenance and disease control and how to choose the right therapeutic regimen for pregnant patients.

Our post-fellowship pathways section is written by Dr. Adam Mikolajczyk, hepatologist and associate program director of the internal medicine program at the University of Illinois Chicago. He describes his journey throughout training and into his years as junior faculty, offering advice to those interested in a career in medical education.

Lastly, in October 2021, the AGA and EndoscopyNow hosted an online fellows forum entitled “Navigating New Frontiers of Training in Gastroenterology.” Dr. Joy Liu (Northwestern University, Chicago) attended and offers an excellent summary of the course for those who may have missed it.

If you have interest in contributing or have ideas for future TNG topics, please contact me (vijayarao@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu) or Ryan Farrell (rfarrell@gastro.org), managing editor of TNG.

Stay well,

Vijaya L. Rao, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition

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