Despite training requirements, knowledge and self-efficacy in women’s health issues remain inadequate in many fields. In gastroenterology, nearly 60% of patients are women, and many disorders are more common in women. Adequate training in gastrointestinal (GI) women’s health is, therefore, critical for gastroenterologists.
(1) To create a core faculty in GI women’s health, (2) to develop a GI women’s health curriculum, (3) to provide didactic education and clinical experiences in GI women’s health, (4) to produce self-efficacy in the evaluation and management of GI women’s health issues, and (5) to develop academic gastroenterologists focused on GI women’s health.
We assembled a multidisciplinary group of GI women’s health experts dedicated to training and mentoring GI fellows. We also held focus groups to determine the unmet needs in the management of the GI health of female patients in our community. Results from this needs assessment formed the foci of our program. In 2002, we introduced a 2-month rotation in GI women’s health. Then, in 2005, we introduced a 3-year women’s health pathway for trainees committed to academic careers.
Between 2002 and 2008, 13 fellows who participated in the rotation have graduated from the Brown GI fellowship program, and 1 has completed the track. Satisfaction with the program is high. Postgraduation survey results show that >80% of graduates who participated in the rotation feel prepared to evaluate and treat GI disorders in pregnancy, and nearly 65% feel prepared to address general GI women’s health issues. All respondents report the GI women’s health rotation provided training that was otherwise not addressed during fellowship.
A training experience in GI women’s health can be created using local resources and expertise. Gastroenterologists with this training feel prepared to evaluate and manage the spectrum of women’s health issues encountered in practice.