Author: Tossapol Kerdsirichairat, MD

A Fellow’s Guide: How to Get the Best Recipe of DDW 2017

Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest annual meeting in the world of gastroenterology, hepatology and gastrointestinal surgery, and is one of the largest annual meetings worldwide. The meeting offers more than 1,000 topic and research forums, and more than 4,000 other presentations to its 15,000 attendees over a 4-day period. As a general gastroenterology fellow who has been involved in the meeting since 2010, I would like to share tips to gastroenterology fellow colleagues and other trainees so that you can arrange and prepare for the most useful schedule possible.

Plan the Meeting a Week Ahead

Given the scale of the meeting, having an interest in all live meetings and demonstrations might not be possible. First, set priorities that you prefer to get from the meeting. For most attendees/trainees, major goals are to attend scientific sessions of your interests and to expand your collaborations. This depends on your training years e.g. those in their last year of residency and fellowship training might set a priority in networking for the future fellowship training and jobs, respectively; while those in their first or second year of training might set a priority to participate and/or present their scientific works. I strongly encourage using the DDW Mobile App, a mobile application that is usually available a few weeks prior to the meeting to import sessions of interest. You can link this to Google Calendar. In addition to planning your itinerary via the application to enhance your personal schedules, you can take notes and email presenters, and backup notes in the cloud and synchronize across your devices.

Attend Mustn’t-Miss Sessions

This can be varied based on the stage in the training. As a third year fellow entering advanced endoscopy field, I strongly encourage colleagues to attend the AGA Postgraduate Course to get updates on current approaches of 5 sections: upper GI, functional GI disorders, liver and pancreaticobiliary diseases, IBD and hepatitis, as well as the ASGE Postgraduate Course to learn from the masters how they approach common endoscopic problems, recognize pitfalls and get a glimpse of new technologies. In addition, the AGA Trainees and Early Career GIs Committee arranged a relatively new session of GI Fellow-Directed Quality Improvement Projects, Board Review Course and a session of Career and Professional-Related Issues. You can also find many hands-on courses via ASGE of which I recommend the Fellows Hands-on Workshop to those who are in their second or thirds years and those who are interested in advanced endoscopy fellowship training.

The DDW website and blog also provide session highlights from each subspecialty through DDW Tracks so you can tailor your schedules to specific areas of interest or study.

Build and Expand Your Network

In addition to scheduling the attendance of scientific sessions, you should also use this opportunity to expand your network and collaborations. Available options are the DDW Trainee and Young GI Lounge, the ASGE Fellows Networking Session, AGA Early Career Networking Hour, the DDW Basic Science Reception, AASLD Members’ Reception, SSAT Foundation Awards Reception, and the DDW Diversity Symposium and Reception.

Lastly, do not forget to spare time to meet old friends, colleagues, and mentors. I hope you enjoy Chicago and get the best of DDW again this year. I look forward to seeing you at DDW 2017!

Tossapol Kerdsirichairat, MD is a third-year gastroenterology fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Stay tuned for more DDW Blog articles on navigating DDW from an attendee’s perspective.