After the excitement and the well-deserved celebrations of matching in a gastroenterology fellowship program, a whole new set of unanswered questions and worries can start forming in a first-year fellow’s mind. “I made it, but now what? How do I learn a whole new career skill like endoscopy? Is my GI knowledge solid and wide enough to manage patients and answer the medical team consult? How will I keep up with my reading and learning with a busy fellowship schedule? How do I balance growth in clinical knowledge, endoscopy, and research? Can I integrate ‘life’ alongside a busy fellowship?” All of these questions and more can be overwhelming to answer in the beginning. The following guide is designed to help you through this transition and navigate the various aspects of first-year fellowship.
It is important to keep in mind that you have 3 full years to become a well-rounded, highly skilled, and knowledgeable gastroenterologist and endoscopist. So, set realistic goals and expectations for your first year, but be mindful that this year also lays the solid foundations of who you will become as a clinician, educator, or researcher.
One of the main goals of fellowship is to learn and implement evidence-based medicine in the diagnosis and management of GI conditions, as well as to learn endoscopic skills and ethics, all while keeping the patient (as a whole person) at the center of what you do. According to a recently published article by Bollipo and colleagues,1 the overall growth as a gastroenterologist not only depends on acquisition of knowledge but also involves cultivating teamwork, communication, situational awareness, compassion, leadership, and situational awareness. Beyond your medical education, your professional growth is also dependent on intentionally working towards acquiring the following skills:
1. Manage your time efficiently and prioritize your daily tasks
2. Become a consultant: effectively communicate with others, teach, lead, and delegate as appropriate
3. Work as a team with colleagues, faculty, and endoscopy staff
4. Develop critical thinking, give and receive constructive feedback, and understand your skills, limitations, and growth potential
5. Identify mentors and potential niche area
6. Start building your professional network and your reputation
7. Get involved in national GI societies