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By Sophie Nelson
There is no set training programme for training as a GP endoscopist. If you’d like to train in endoscopy, which you will need to do though a JAG accredited training unit, you will need to plan your own training programme and be motivated enough to see it through. Here is a guide outlining how to get started.
You’ll need to have a supportive trainer and mentor to help you through your endoscopy training. This can be any Consultant who is a JAG approved trainer (gastroenterologist, surgeon, radiologist) who can help arrange training sessions for you in an endoscopy unit. Approach them and see if they would be willing to support you. If you don’t have any contacts I would start by approaching the Head of Gastroenterology or Head of Endoscopy at your local hospital.
This will form the basis of your training log-book. You will record all procedures, Directly Observed Procedures (DOPs) and assessments on here. The JETS website can be found at www.jets.nhs.uk.
These are courses designed to introduce you to basic endoscopy skills – there are separate courses for upper GI endoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Courses last 2-3 days and cost around £1000 each. Details of venues can be found on the JETS website.
By this time you will hopefully have found a supportive Consultant who will help you through your training. Scope training will need to take place in your own time. To be accredited you need to have a total of 200 procedures (100 for flexible sigmoidoscopies) and you will be assessed by two endoscopists other than your trainer once you have completed these to ensure your competence.
Some consultants may need persuading that there is something in it for them too! Some trainees choose to take part in gastro clinics (it must occur in a JAG accredited endoscopy unit that also has training as part of their accreditation) for each endoscopy session they are trained in. This is beneficial for both parties – as a trainee you learn about the indications for endoscopy and the management of the findings in outpatients, and the consultant gets a free helping hand each week in clinic.
You can train in endoscopy at any stage of your career. It is possible as a GP trainee (for example, as a registrar) – but this is likely to involve becoming a less than full-time trainee (LTFTT). This is possible by checking your contract for the clauses about less than full time training. Most deaneries will allow trainees to go less than full time for professional development. You will need to apply to your deanery for this. Eg. A less than full time trainee at 80% could do 8 sessions a week GP training, one endoscopy session and one gastro clinic a week. This would extend a GP registrar year from 12 months to 15 months. This would obviously involve a pay cut of 20% per month. Qualified GP’s can also train in their days away from their practice/in their spare time.
Once you are accredited you can consider become a GP with a Special Interest (GPwSI) Gastroenterology. The hospital you have trained in may wish to employ you in their department, or you could approach other hospitals or endoscopy units. You can also continue working in clinics (and now you can be paid for your efforts!).