10 Tips for New GI Fellows

As new fellows join our ranks, AGA wants to help them navigate this exciting step in their path to becoming a gastroenterologist. Please share this page with the fellows in your department!

We asked AGA members at all stages of their careers to provide tips for a successful fellowship. Here are the top 10 takeaways.

1. Make friends.

Connect on a personal level with your co-fellows and attending physicians. Not only will this make your fellowship more enjoyable, but you’ll need this network during your first years out of fellowship. It likely these will be friends for life.

2. Stay flexible.

Be open to opportunities that allow you to learn a skill, meet people or attend a workshop on a different topic. Take advantage of protected time to explore diverse topics in GI and attend hands-on courses.

3. Be a sponge.

Conversations that you have with attendings and co-fellows may give you ideas about how to approach patients, research questions or even prompt you to consider new areas of interest. Be a fly on the wall during physician-patient encounters, and take in all of the verbal and non-verbal communication that makes this relationship successful.

4. Find a mentor (or two, or three).

Identify potential mentors early in your fellowship. While it’s important to have mentors with similar research and clinical interests to you, it is nice to have a career mentor that operates outside of your niche, who can give you advice about the trajectory or shape that your path is taking and help you achieve the work/life balance you look to strike.

5. Have a plan.

Start thinking about a roadmap for your fellowship and career. Include specific goals you want to accomplish as you move through each year (or even half-year) of fellowship, whether that’s gaining experience for certain types of procedures, submitting an IRB or publishing research.

6. Publish.

Experience with the editorial process and scientific writing will be critical to your career. Start with the low-hanging fruit, such as case reports, and work toward reviews and original research.

7. Focus on quality, not numbers.

When it comes to endoscopy, focus on learning the right way to do procedures. You will do enough colonoscopies and interventions over your fellowship to get you numbers, but what’s most important for the long-haul is learning to perform high-quality procedures.

8. Get involved in the GI community early.

Go to Digestive Disease Week®, or attend a smaller meeting such as an AGA Regional Practice Skills Workshop or the AGA-AASLD Academic Skills Workshop. These events allow you to meet others in the field and discuss topics you may not have access to in fellowship.

9. Be generous.

Help your co-fellows when they need your help or advice. Not only will this improve your relationships, but your paths will continue to cross as future colleagues and friends.

10. Have fun.

Fellowship provides a fantastic opportunity to learn from those around you and fine-tune your skills. Three years will fly by, so enjoy the ride.