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Pathways to a career in transplant hepatology

Transplant hepatology training after gastroenterology fellowship

The traditional transplant hepatology fellowship offers one year of advanced training for those who have completed a fellowship in gastroenterology. Transplant hepatology was formalized as a distinct discipline with its own certification by the ABIM in 2006. More than 40 ACGME-accredited fellowships are currently offered outside of the formal match process. Upon completing this year of training, fellows will be eligible to take the transplant hepatology board certification exam. Benefits of an additional year of fellowship training after completion of gastroenterology fellowship include:

  • Advanced training in general and transplant hepatology
  • More time to pursue scholarly activities including research both during the 3 year gastroenterology fellowship and 1 year transplant hepatology fellowship
  • Opportunity to pursue advanced training at a different institution
  • Absence of responsibilities as a GI fellow (e.g. GI call, GI clinic, GI specific conferences, etc.)
  • Eligibility to apply for the AASLD Advanced/Transplant Hepatology Fellowship Award
  • Ability to be funded on the T32 training grant

ABIM GI/Transplant Hepatology Pilot Program: Advanced/transplant hepatology training during gastroenterology fellowship

In 2012, AASLD, in conjunction with other GI professional societies and ABIM, developed a 3 year combined gastroenterology/transplant hepatology fellowship program. This program uses a competency-based model to allow for certification in both GI and transplant hepatology within a 3-year period. Benefits of the combined GI/transplant hepatology pilot program include:

  • Shorter training period
  • Ability to still obtain certification in both gastroenterology and transplant hepatology
  • Less mandatory exposure to advanced procedures and potentially other subspecialized rotations in GI that may not be applicable to future career in hepatology
  • Opportunity to participate in and contribute to an innovative training model

Get more information on the ABIM GI/transplant hepatology pilot program.

When to apply

Applicants interested in the traditional 1-year transplant hepatology fellowship should contact potential programs during their late second year or early third year of GI fellowship in order to schedule interviews. As there is no formal match system for this fellowship, there is no uniform application deadline. However, most programs have only 1-2 positions available, and late applicants may have fewer choices.

Applicants interested in the 3-year ABIM GI/transplant hepatology pilot program should speak with their GI program director as early as possible. Potential applicants may need to reorganize their second year schedules to make sure they complete the majority of GI cinical requirements in the first 2 years of GI training so that they can devote their third year almost exclusively to transplant hepatology. Application materials are generally available to transplant hepatology program directors and potential pilot fellows upon request beginning in November/December of the fellow’s second year of GI training and approved by the AASLD Pilot Task Force on a rolling basis through March of the fellow’s second year.

Career options in transplant hepatology

Following transplant hepatology training, there are several settings in which a transplant hepatologist can practice. Often transplant hepatologists are affiliated with an academic institution. Additionally, there are opportunities available in hospital-based and private group practices.

Academic

These positions are affiliated with a university or teaching institution.

  • Clinical Transplant Hepatologist: The majority of time is dedicated to providing care for pre-, peri- and post-transplant patients. Some job descriptions are a blend of general hepatology, transplant hepatology and gastroenterology. Others are exclusively transplant hepatology.
  • Research/Physician scientist: A significant proportion of time is spent engaged in research, often >50%, which typically requires research funding.
  • Education/Clinical Educator: Protected time is set aside for medical education (UME, GME, CME) in addition to clinical duties.

Hospital/health system

There is a growing number of hepatologists and transplant hepatologists who are employed by hospitals or large health systems. These are often not university-affiliated and are typically supported by extensive clinical care programs, usually within liver transplant programs. These centers may also be supported by extensive clinical research programs. Hepatologists in these settings are typically salaried employees of the hospital or health system.

Group/private practice

There are growing opportunities for hepatologists to join single- or multispecialty group/private practices. These settings are often not affiliated with a liver transplant program and are generally supported by clinical revenue generated directly by performing endoscopic procedures or indirectly by revenue shared among gastroenterology partners. These practices may manage all aspects of liver-related care including much of the liver transplant evaluations for one or more transplant programs. They may also have thriving clinical trial programs.

Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program and Resident/Fellow Ambassador Program

Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program

Created in 2010, the AASLD Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program promotes the study of hepatology among residents who have the potential for a career in academic medicine and who haven’t yet determined their long-term career goals. This program is targeted toward medical, surgical, and pediatric residents and their Mentors to attend The Liver Meeting® each year and participate in other AASLD activities throughout their training.

Learn more about this program.

Resident/Fellow Ambassador Program

Created in 2014, the AASLD Membership and Mentorship Committee designed a program for previous recipients of the Emerging Liver Scholars Award to serve as an Ambassador and reach out to medical students and other residents to spread the word about a career in liver disease and discuss the data and research presented at The Liver Meeting®. The program funds up to six Ambassadors to travel to and attend the Liver Meeting® as well as funding for up to 15 Ambassadors to develop programs and events at their home institutions.

Learn more about this program.

Educational Resources for Trainees

Trainee Guide to The Liver Meeting®

Get Involved with AASLD

Additional Resources

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Calendar

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Publications

Career Center

Learn more about the AASLD's Career Center.

Interview with Douglas Simonetto, MD, AASLD Trainee Member since 2012

Dr. Douglas Simonetto, a previous Emerging Liver Scholar (Class of 2012), shares his thoughts about the Emerging Liver Scholars program, AASLD trainee member benefits, and AASLD in general.

Read the interview.

Clinical Hepatology Update
Emerging Liver Scholars 2017