Since we were founded in 2003, the Fellowship Council has continued to help improve and maintain consistency in post residency training in gastrointestinal surgery. We are an association of program directors and specialty societies charged with oversight of fellowship training programs in order to uphold uniformly high standards and produce well trained surgeons.
The major purpose of the Fellowship Council (FC) is to assure robust curricula and high-quality training in non-ACGME gastrointestinal and related surgical fellowships. We do this in partnership with sponsoring specialty societies including AHPBA, AHS, ASCRS, ASMBS, SAGES and SSAT. The FC maintains a robust infrastructure, including an accreditation process with site visits, an application and matching process, a case log database, and an evaluation system. We are currently spearheading advances in those evaluations, incorporating Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA) assessments to provide timely and relevant feedback to fellows. The FC offers fellowships in Advanced GI, Advanced GI MIS, Bariatric, non-ACGME Colorectal, Flexible Endoscopy, Foregut, Hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB), and non-ACGME Thoracic surgery. Accreditation criteria and curricula are developed in collaboration with the FC sponsoring societies. Over the past decade, our fellowship programs have benefited greatly from the generous support provided by the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships (FSF) and its sponsors. Many FC programs rely on these funds to offset the cost of fellowship training; for the 2021-2022 fellowship year, the FSF provided grants for 108 fellowship positions. These partnerships have been instrumental in allowing the FC to flourish.
The number of and demand for FC fellowships has grown considerably. In 2004 (the first match year), there were 80 programs offering 113 positions to 130 applicants; for the 2021-2022 fellowship year, there were 153 programs offering 196 positions to 346 applicants. During this time our fellowships have also gotten more competitive with a match rate of 76% for certified applicants in the Advanced GI, Advanced GI MIS, Bariatric, Flexible Endoscopy, Foregut and HPB application and matching process, and a match rate of 47% for certified applicants in the non-ACGME Colorectal and non-ACGME Thoracic application and matching process. We track fellow experience with an annual exit survey and the results are overwhelmingly positive, but any critical feedback is used to shape positive change.
We have recently worked with our sponsoring societies to update fellowship criteria for Advanced GI MIS, Bariatric, Flexible Endoscopy and HPB fellowships. In 2020, we rolled out a new designation as a multi-society effort in Foregut Surgery. New criteria for Flexible Endoscopy in Advanced and Comprehensive levels will roll out in 2021. Also, in 2021, we are reworking the core curricula requirements of all our fellowships with a plan to provide standard content for program directors and fellows. We have also recently rebuilt our IT infrastructure to provide easier access to applications, accreditation information, case logs, technical and clinical assessments, autonomy metrics, and program.
We are committed to facilitate the best post-graduate training possible. We are open to adding new training paradigms, programs and sponsoring societies that are committed to this same goal. We will continue to iteratively improve on our programs and oversight in alignment with our educational mission. We are proud to help train the next generation of surgeons.
Aurora Pryor, MD, MBA
The Fellowship Council