Postfellowship Pathways

Developing training pathways in advanced endoscopic resection and third-space endoscopy in the U.S.


As a gastroenterology and hepatology fellow, choosing a career path was a daunting prospect. Despite the additional specialization, there seemed to be endless career options to consider. Did I want to join an academic, private, or hybrid practice? Should I subspecialize within the field? Was it important to incorporate research or teaching into my practice? What about opportunities to take on administrative or leadership roles?

Fellowship training at a large academic research institution provided me the opportunity to work with expert faculty in inflammatory bowel disease, esophageal disease, motility and functional gastrointestinal disease, pancreaticobiliary disease, and hepatology. I enjoyed seeing patients in each of these subspecialty clinics. But, by the end of my second year of GI fellowship, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do professionally.

Dr. Daniel A. Kroch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Dr. Daniel A. Kroch

A career in academic general gastroenterology seemed to be a good fit for my personality and goals. Rather than focusing on research, I chose to position myself as a clinician educator. I knew that having a subspecialty area of expertise would help improve my clinical practice and make me a more attractive candidate to academic centers. To help narrow my choice, I looked at the clinical enterprise at our institution and assessed where the unmet clinical needs were most acute. Simultaneously, I identified potential mentors to support and guide me through the transition from fellow to independent practitioner. I decided to focus on acquiring the skills to care for patients with anorectal diseases and lower-GI motility disorders, as this area met both of my criteria – excellent mentorship and an unmet clinical need. Under the guidance of Dr. Yolanda Scarlett, I spent my 3rd year in clinic learning to interpret anorectal manometry tests, defecograms, and sitz marker studies and treating patients with refractory constipation, fecal incontinence, and anal fissures.

With a plan to develop an expertise in anorectal diseases and low-GI motility disorders, I also wanted to focus on improving my endoscopic skills to graduate as well rounded a clinician as possible. To achieve this goal, I sought out a separate endoscopy mentor, Dr. Ian Grimm, the director of endoscopy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Grimm, a classically trained advanced endoscopist performing endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), had a burgeoning interest in endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and had just returned from a few months in Japan learning to perform endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) and peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).

When I began working with Dr. Grimm, I had not even heard the term third-space endoscopy and knew nothing about ESD or POEM. I spent as much time as possible watching and assisting Dr. Grimm with complex endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) during the first few months of my 3rd year. Soon after my exposure to advanced endoscopic resection, it was clear that I wanted to learn and incorporate this into my clinical practice. I watched Dr. Grimm perform the first POEM at UNC in the fall of 2016 and by that time I was hooked on learning third-space endoscopy. I observed and assisted with as many EMR, ESD, and POEM cases as I could that year. In addition to the hands-on and cognitive training with Dr. Grimm, I attended national meetings and workshops focused on learning third-space endoscopy. In the spring of my 3rd year I was honored to be the first fellow to complete the Olympus master class in ESD – a 2-day hands-on training course sponsored by Olympus. By the end of that year, I was performing complex EMR with minimal assistance and had completed multiple ESDs and POEMs with cognitive supervision only.


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