Top 10 Tips for New GI Fellows

July 1st is right around the corner! None of us at LFN are too far removed from the nervous excitement that accompanies that date. Here are our “top 10” tips to help you navigate your fellowship training.

  1. Try to read about one clinical question each day before you go home. It can be a quick review on UpToDate or a recent publication. Finding time for self-learning in a busy environment is key throughout fellowship.
  2. Recognize what you know and what you don’t know. If you are unsure about something, it’s better to ask for help sooner rather than later (especially in decompensated cirrhotics).
  3. Try to find a ‘career’ mentor early in fellowship who can help you navigate the field of GI and help you find your ‘niche’; This may be someone whose clinical skills you hope to emulate or whose work-life balance is admirable. While your research mentor can also be your career mentor, it’s important to recognize that various faculty members can help you grow in different ways.
  4. Introduce yourself to the radiologists and pathologists at your center early – it is often vital to discuss cases with them to connect the clinical context with their findings. Plus, you learn a lot and can develop long-term friendships.
  5. With your attendings, discuss a certain area (or two) of focus for improvement each week and ask for specific feedback at the end of the week. This helps guide your attending to give you feedback for what you want to improve on.
  6. If you’re interested in hepatology, become a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and get involved in their special interest groups (SIGs). If you’re planning on pursuing transplant, American Society of Transplantation (AST) is also a great resource. You can learn a lot from being involved and it will help you network.
  7. No one is expecting you to be an advanced endoscopist on your first day, let alone 6 months in. The faculty are expecting you to struggle and, in fact, this is an important part of the fellowship learning process.
  8. When getting involved with research projects, it’s important to establish an open and honest relationship with your mentor. Factors such as abstract/manuscript goals (i.e. “where are we planning on submitting this?”) and authorship should be discussed up front to prevent unwelcome surprises in the end. Remember mentorship isn’t limited to one individual but may even be more successful by creating a diverse team of individuals who can collectively help you reach your goals.
  9. Remember that every time someone is paging you with a question, they are asking for help, which means that a patient needs your help. Some teams may not be able to articulate a clinical question, so it’s your job to use the opportunity to educate the team and assist in patient care.
  10. Don’t forget to take time for yourself. First year of fellowship can be challenging, thus  it’s important to check in with yourself and make sure that you are doing things you love that have absolutely nothing to do with GI/Liver.

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