The Fellowship Council is aware of the disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on society, academic institutions and hospitals, and, consequently, on the 2021-2022 fellowship year Advanced GI, Advanced GI MIS, Bariatric, Flex Endo and HPB interview process. As a result, the Fellowship Council strongly advises that all future non-local fellowship interviews be conducted via alternative interview methods, which may include teleconference interviews. The Fellowship Council asks that programs make every effort to accommodate those affected and do not penalize them for their inability to physically visit your institution.
Welcome to the Fellowship Council website!
Despite the unusual circumstances we have faced in 2020, the Fellowship Council and our membership continues to be strong and thriving. As you know, the Fellowship Council is a Society comprised of Faculty, Associate Program Directors and Program Directors for the majority of the non-ACGME fellowships in GI Surgery. The Fellowship Council (FC) has been in existence for 23 years and offers fellowships in Advanced GI, Advanced GI/MIS, Bariatric, non-ACGME Colorectal, Flexible Endoscopy, Hepatopancreatobiliary, non-ACGME Thoracic surgery and now also in Foregut surgery. Fellowship sponsoring societies working through the FC include AHPBA, AHS, ASCRS, ASMBS, SAGES, and the SSAT. We currently represent 182 training programs and have 245 trainees and 700 active surgeon members. Our trainees represent a significant percentage of the future surgical workforce.
This year we are hosting the first ever stand-alone Program Director’s Summit https://fellowshipcouncil.org/program-news/. This event, coordinated by Shanu Kothari, MD, will share best practices and pitfalls we have seen as Program Directors and discuss avenues to tackle challenges that are commonly faced. We hope that all of you can join us live, or through the enduring virtual material.
A major new undertaking of the Fellowship Council is the roll out of Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA) pathways in all of our key training areas. We have spent several years developing this new paradigm in training. Liane Feldman, MD, is currently spearheading a pilot of these disease specific training modules that we anticipate will be central in all of our fellowships.
We have also recently worked on a major IT overhaul to make all of our interfaces more straightforward. You will hopefully notice the streamlined approach to membership applications, accreditation updates and skill assessments. As part of this, Adnan Alseidi, MD, and Shanu Kothari, MD, have led the process to make our case logs easier to query and track. Program Directors and sponsoring societies should be able to use these resources to benchmark program progress and fellowships in general.
As you know, a major function of our society is accreditation, led for the last few years by Brent Matthews, MD and Maria B. Majella Doyle, MD. The amount of work this committee has done really sets the bar for our organization and maintains the excellent quality and reputation of our fellowship programs. This year, both accreditation and membership visits will be virtual in consideration of the persistent pandemic. We hope this format will be conducive to productive site visits and discussion.
For the last several months, we have all been impacted by the COVID pandemic. Losing several months of elective clinical practice can have a major impact to a one-year training program. I want to commend Immediate Past President Samar Mattar, MD for his outstanding leadership through the pandemic. He worked to improve communication with our sponsoring societies and we closely tracked fellowship case log numbers. We made concessions only when clearly necessary to the requirements for our training programs. I think the rapport was excellent and the training remained superb. I personally was impressed with the regular dialogue of the meeting held between the sponsoring society and Fellowship Council leadership and plan to extend these conversations this year.
One additional effort led by Dr. Mattar was the initiation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Alisan Fathalizadeh, MD and Donn Spight, MD. The FC intends to promote diversity and inclusion in our membership and trainees. We look to this group to help us identify opportunities for improvement and establish a positive pathway forward.
There remain a number of unknowns as we head into the second pandemic winter. However, our fellowship programs and training experience remains superb. I look forward to working with all of you to maintain excellence through these difficult times.
Aurora Pryor, MD, MBA, FACS
The Fellowship Council