The ACG 2021 conference was an overwhelming success and the organizers should be congratulated. I am sure that having an in-person course was a very difficult decision, but the conference attendance was better than I expected and the education team delivered a top notch clinical program as usual.
As I looked around the sessions and reviewed the agenda for each day, one thing that became apparent to me was that the ACG values diversity and supporting junior faculty and trainees. The desire to have a more inclusive program and participation was obvious when one looked at the program schedule and the list of the key lectures. The American Journal of Gastroenterology Lecture by Dr. Amy S. Oxentenko set the tone as she highlighted the history and impact of women in Gastroenterology and this extended across the entire program. There was a focus on healthcare disparities in a large proportion of the sessions and equity in healthcare was “top of mind” throughout the meeting.
The culmination of this for me was the plenary session 3A for Esophagus and Functional Disorders where I had the opportunity to watch two of my mentees present for the first time. Madison Simmons (PsyD), a postdoctoral psychologist working under direct supervision of Dr. Tiffany Taft, seamlessly presented our work on the role of hypervigilance in esophageal diseases and her mastery of the subject was evident in the way she tackled the questions asked by the panel. Christina Shehata (BA), a second year medical student working under the direct supervision of Dr. Dustin Carlson, presented her work on FLIP Panometry in eosinophilic esophagitis and she looked like a seasoned professional as she also answered the questions from the panel with confidence and authority. I was very proud of my two mentees and was also impressed with the entire plenary session as it showcased junior faculty and trainees from multiple institutions. I was also personally satisfied by the thought that Drs. Taft and Carlson have moved into independent roles as mentors where I have become inconsequential. Succession is a part of mentoring that is often overlooked and the goal for any mentor should be to make themselves replaceable and to leave your program with your mentees on top.
In the end, I was extremely thankful for the ACG and the culture that the college has developed over the years. The ACG focuses on developing young talent and being inclusive and I was lucky to see it on the agenda and also experience it first-hand.
Dr. Pandolfino is employed by Northwestern University, has received NIH R01 and P01 grants, and has received consulting fees or honorarium from Medtronic, Ethicon, Ironwood, Phathom, Takeda, and Diversatek. He received Payment for lectures including service on speakers bureaus from Medtronic, Ethicon, Ironwood, Phathom, Takeda, Diversatek, has a patent on FLIP-Panometry, and has Medtronic royalties.
Image by BRO Vector / gettyimages