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Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Program tracks and overview:

What are the tracks for fellows at Penn?

There are currently 3 fellowship tracks: the basic science track, the clinical epidemiology track, and the clinician-educator track.  The 1st year of fellowship provides extensive clinical experience and is the same for all tracks. The basic science and clinical epidemiology tracks require substantial research during the 2nd and 3rd years of fellowship. In the basic science track, fellows typically perform laboratory-based research with the ultimate goal of a career as an NIH funded physician-scientist in basic and/or translational research. Through the clinical epidemiology track, fellows pursue training and research towards a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) degree or Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP) degree. Upon completion of either of these tracks, fellows typically apply for their own NIH (K08, K23) or foundation (eg. AGA, AASLD) funding.  The clinician-educator track is structured to provide intensive training with a particular clinical focus; the goal of this track is a career as an academic gastroenterologist, educator, and clinical researcher. Click here for FAQ regarding the clinicial-educator track.

Can fellows switch tracks?

Switching tracks is not an option since most fellows are supported by one of 2 separate NIH T32 training grants (basic science or clinical epidemiology) and the number of positions on these training grants is fixed.

How many positions are available in each track?

The number of positions in each track varies from year to year, based upon the quality of the applicants for each track and the number of positions available on the training grants. Fellows are asked to declare their interest in a particular track prior to their interview. Typically, we match one fellow each year to the clinician-educator track, with the remaining four positions split between the basic science and clinical epidemiology tracks.

What are the opportunities for translational research?

The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) at the University of Pennsylvania offers training in translational research for fellows through the Masters in Translational Research (MTR) program. Fellows interested in translational research are typically supported by our basic science T32 training grant and engage in laboratory based translational research prior to entering the MTR program.  Fellows are also eligible to apply for the KL2 Mentored Career Development Program in Clinical and Translational Science, supported by the Clinical and Translational Research Award (CTSA), after 1-2 years in the laboratory.

Where do fellows go when they finish fellowship?

The ultimate goal of the University of Pennsylvania fellowship program is to prepare academic gastroenterologists.  Graduates of the fellowship program are likely to establish a career in which a significant portion of their time is devoted to research supported by independent NIH funding.  Nonetheless, we recognize that not all graduates will wish to pursue such a career balance and are strongly supportive of all of our program graduates.  A list of graduates over the past 10 years and their current positions are available here.

Inpatient service/1st year:

What is the call schedule?  Is call in-house or from home? 

GI Fellows take call from home; there is no in-house call.  1st year fellows take home call every 2-3 nights during the week and 4 weekend days per month.  2nd and 3rd year fellows take call approximately once per month when they are not on service.

At which hospitals do the fellows rotate and how much time do fellows spend at each hospital? 

There are three hospitals at which GI fellows rotate: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC) and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC).   HUP is a typical large university hospital with complex cases. PPMC provides more community-based care and thus a mix of routine and complex patients.  Patients at PVAMC are typical of those at other VA Hospitals.   At all hospitals, the care of all GI patients is overseen by the service attendings and fellows; there are no private GI patients.  At HUP, there are two GI services, the Gut Service and the Liver Service.  There are two GI fellows on the Gut service and it is an all consult service.  The HUP Liver Service has one fellow who oversees the liver inpatient service as well as consults.  The GI services at PPMC and PVAMC are both consult services with one fellow each.                        

Service

Number of fellows

Consult/Inpatient

Average number of months

(1st year)

HUP Gut

2

Consults only

5

HUP Liver

1

Both

2

PPMC

1

Consults only

2

VA

1

Consults only

2

Are there any free holidays as a 1st year fellow?  

The UPHS (University of Pennsylvania Health System) recognizes several holidays including Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.  On these days, the inpatient endoscopy unit is closed.  Only the on-call fellow works these days.  The inpatient endoscopy unit at PVAMC is closed for all federal holidays.

Do 1st year fellows get weekends off? 

If a fellow is not on call, that fellow is off on the weekend. Only the on-call fellow is expected to work on the weekend.  The on-call fellow is responsible for all new consults and endoscopies but does not round with the inpatient service on the weekend.

How many months are fellows on service each year?

1st year fellows are on service for 10.5 months.  Fellows in the 2nd and 3rd years are on service for only one-month per year.  A timeline for the 3-year fellowship is below.

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Endoscopy:

How much endoscopy time do fellows get?

Fellows routinely perform endoscopies during their inpatient service time and when on call. At the beginning of their 1st year, all fellows receive two days of training on an endoscopy simulator with the assistance of a GI attending.  Additionally, 1st year fellows have a 2-week dedicated endoscopy block.  During the 2nd and 3rd years, fellows have one half-day per week outpatient endoscopy session at PCAM.

How many procedures do fellows perform during fellowship? 

The GI program has established minimum endoscopy requirements for the 3-year program, as outlined below.  Most fellows far exceed these numbers during their training.  For example. fellows typically perform more than 100 colonoscopies and 100 endoscopies during their 1st year alone.

MINIMUM REQUIRED

Diagnostic EGD

130

Non-variceal hemostasis

 (Actively bleeding)

25

10

Variceal hemostasis

 (Actively bleeding)

20

5

Esophageal dilation

20

PEG

15

Capsule endoscopy

25

Enteroscopy

10

Sigmoidoscopy

30

Colonoscopy

140

Snare polypectomy

30

Liver biopsy

20

Is there training in ERCP?

There is no training in ERCP in the standard three-year GI fellowship.  ERCP training is reserved for the 4th year advanced endoscopy fellows

Outpatient clinics:

When and where are the outpatient clinics for fellows? Do fellows rotate in specialty clinics?

Clinics are held at PCAM (Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine), PPMC, and PVAMC. All fellows have one half day per week of continuity clinic throughout fellowship.  In the 1st and 2nd years, this clinic is a general GI clinic at PCAM and PPMC.  In the 3rd year, in lieu of the general GI clinic, fellows have subspecialty continuity clinics in inflammatory bowel disease (6 months) and hepatology (6 months).

Conferences:

What is the fellows’ conference schedule?

There are multiple conferences held at HUP, PPMC, and PVAMC. All fellows are expected to attend Monday conference (Journal Club, clinical guideline, problem-based module), Clinical Case Conference, GI Grand Rounds, and the Core Curriculum conferences. The Thursday Research Seminar and Friday Research Conference/Journal Club are offered by NIH-funded Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases and are required for fellows in the basic science track.               

Monday

Liver conference (HUP)

Clinical Journal Club, review of clinical guidelines, or problem-based module (HUP)

Tuesday

Pathology (HUP)

Swallow (HUP)

Wednesday

IBD Journal Club (PPMC)

Clinical Case Conference (HUP)

GI Grand Rounds (HUP)

Thursday

Core Curriculum (HUP)

Research Seminar (HUP)

Friday

Hepatobiliary Conference (HUP)

Research Conference/Journal Club (HUP)

Liver Transplant Selection (HUP)

Other clinical training:

Do fellows receive training in radiology?  How about GI pathology?

All 3rd year fellows receive dedicated training in radiology, consisting of one 4-week radiology block.  During this block, fellows have 1 week rotations in plain films, CT, MRI, and interventional radiology.  Fellows receive training in GI pathology through a weekly GI pathology conference, which includes a curriculum and review of cases.

Research training:

How is the research training supported? 

Research fellows are supported by one of our two NIH T32 training grants (basic science and clinical epidemiology).  A large number of our fellows subsequently receive NIH career development (K) awards.  Click here for a list of the current K-awardees in the GI Division.

 How and when do fellows choose a research mentor?

Fellows on the basic science track meet with several potential mentors during the 1st years and select a mentor by spring of their 1st year.  Fellows on the clinical epidemiology track choose a mentor shortly after the beginning of their 2nd year.

What is the University of Pennsylvania Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases and how will this benefit my research training?

Our Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases is one of 17 NIH-funded Digestive Diseases Research Centers throughout the country and is unusual in that the focus is not restricted to a specific organ or disease process.  As such, the Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases unites investigators with interests in digestive and liver biology, physiology, and disease in the exploration of creative experimental approaches.  The Center also sponsors regular seminars and an annual focused symposium, all of which trainees are encouraged to attend.  Through the Center’s scientific cores, trainees have access to reagents, services, technical training, and complex equipment for their research. A Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program has provided support for trainees who have not yet received independent funding.

 What is the CCEB?  What is an MSCE?

Fellows on the clinical epidemiology track typically enroll in the Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) program and receive their training through the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB).  The CCEB is a part of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and provides an interdepartmental structure linking clinical epidemiologists and biostatisticians. The CCEB also sponsors regular seminars. The goal of the MSCE program is to train investigators to conduct formal epidemiologic studies and prepare them for academic research careers.

What is an MSHP?

Fellows on the clinical epidemiology track also have the option to enroll in the Masters of Science Program in Health Policy Research. This is a two-year training program in health services research that leads to a Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP).  Health policy research investigates the clinical, public health, economic, and societal impact of health care and health policy.  The primary goals of the MSHP program are to train investigators in health services and policy research and prepare them for successful careers in academics, government, non-profit, and industry.

Can fellows obtain a Ph.D. during their training? 

Fellows on both the basic science and clinical epidemiology tracks may pursue Ph.D. degrees during their training.

Living in Philadelphia and other work/life issues:

When do fellows get vacation?  

Fellows request vacation prior to starting fellowship and prior to the start of the 2nd and 3rd years.  Fellows receive 4 weeks vacation per year and generally split these into one 2-week vacation and two 1-week vacations.

 Can fellows moonlight?  If so where?

Moonlighting is not permitted for 1ST year fellows. 2nd and 3rd year fellows can moonlight within the Penn system and are permitted to do up to 4 moonlighting shifts per month.  Per ACGME rules, moonlighting must count towards the 80-hour workweek.

 What is living in Philadelphia like?

Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the country but has the feel of a much smaller city and is more affordable than most other east coast cities. Center City (the downtown area) is very walkable and contains a large number of outstanding museums and restaurants, shopping, an opera and ballet company, and a world-class orchestra.  Philadelphia is also home to teams in each of the 4 major sports.  The University of Pennsylvania is located just west of Center City in an area called University City.  Click here to view an article recently published by the New York Times Travel Section regarding the Philadelphia area.

Where do the fellows live?

Fellows live in one of many unique Philadelphia neighborhoods or in one of the convenient suburbs in Pennsylvania or New Jersey see list

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