Training Program Overview
The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition offers an outstanding fellowship training program that is focused on preparation for a career in academic Gastroenterology. We typically accept 3 to 4 new fellows per year for Gastroenterology training. We offer a research-oriented track in which fellows complete a total of 18 months of clinical and 18 months of research training, and a clinical track in which fellows complete 6 to 9 months of research with the remainder being clinical training.
In the research track fellows can pursue either basic laboratory research or clinical research. In the latter case, the clinical research will be coupled to completing formal coursework for a master's degree in either public health (M.P.H.) or clinical investigation (M.S.C.I.) In the basic science pathway, numerous opportunities are available within the Gastroenterology Division to work in a world-class scientific environment with mentors that are studying areas that include: Helicobacter pylori pathogenesis, immune response, and associated carcinogenesis; mucosal immunology; oxidative injury in the liver; colon cancer, and gastric cancer. Additionally, other opportunities for basic research abound on campus.
Clinical research opportunities are also available in the Division in the areas of GI motility and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Each academic research track fellow will be assigned a mentoring committee that will work closely with the primary mentor to help develop a training plan. During their first year, fellows will become familiar with research opportunities available to them. A research project is discussed in detail and appropriate faculty mentorship is implemented. This will involve either entering the laboratory of a faculty preceptor or pursuing a master's degree program for clinical research. The advisory group will continue to assist the trainee throughout the fellowship. There is a great deal of flexibility in planning individual programs in the academic research track. An NIH Training Grant supports the academic research track training.
All applicants for training in GI must be board eligible or board certified in Internal Medicine. All fellows in either the clinical or research track receive an intensive year of clinical training which includes instruction in endoscopic procedures. During this clinical year, fellows work at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the Nashville Campus of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (VATVHS) that is physically attached to VUMC, and the Vanderbilt GI Clinic. Recent fellows have averaged 1000-1200 endoscopic procedures during this clinical year, including upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, PEG, and esophageal dilatation. Each fellow participates in two continuity clinics throughout the fellowship, one at VUMC and the other at the VA that alternate each week.
After the first year, fellows then pursue the research track with 18 months of research in the final 24 months of training, or the clinical track with 6 months of research and 18 months of additional clinical training. During the research months, the time is protected to allow an appropriate focus on the research training. For those in the clinical track, a career in academic medicine as a clinician educator is highly encouraged and fellows are provided protected time to conduct longitudinal prospective clinical research projects during the last two years of fellowship. The second and third years of fellowship training are tailored to the interests and needs of the individual fellow. During the second and third year, there is additional training in hepatology, including liver transplantation, with opportunities for training in esophageal and anorectal motility.
Formal training in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound training will generally be pursued during a fourth year of elective training. Conferences and clinics focused on GI and liver diseases are held weekly. There are didactic conferences which follow a training curriculum in gastroenterology. This curriculum was designed by Division faculty to provide a core of information needed by the trainees. Regardless of the fellow's ultimate career choice, strong clinical and research training during fellowship training is a priority of the program.
In 2017, Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently was honored to be one of three recipients of the prestigious DeWitt C. Baldwin Jr. Award. Presented by the ACGME in partnership with the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, this award recognizes ACGME sponsoring institutions that are exemplary in fostering a humanistic and respectful environment for graduate medical education. The award emphasizes the joint responsibility of health system and graduate medical education leadership for delivering high-quality health care while simultaneously supporting the personal and professional development of learners and faculty.