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The Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program has officially kicked-off and AASLD is now accepting applications for the class of 2015. This mentorship program was designed to promote the study of hepatology and offers the mentor and the mentee complimentary registration to The Liver Meeting®. We asked AASLD members Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD; Mindie H. Nguyen, MD, MAS, FAASLD, AGAF; and Oren K. Fix, MD, MSc, to talk about their experiences as Emerging Liver Scholars mentors.

You have served as a mentor to an AASLD Emerging Liver Scholar in the past. How do you identify a resident who would benefit from this program?

Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD

"We have an in-patient liver service which is run by interns and residents and staffed by hepatology faculty. We also have residents rotate through our liver clinics. Our residents get quite a bit of exposure to patients with liver diseases as well as opportunities to interact with our hepatology faculty. Because many of us have active research programs, each year we have 4-5 residents working on a liver project. I make sure that our entire hepatology faculty and our medicine residency program director knows about the Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program so they can inform the residents they are currently with and other residents who have expressed an interest in hepatology. Most years, I have one or two residents working on a liver project with me, and I've generally managed to entice some of the residents who rounded with me on the liver service to be interested in hepatology. When the Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program is open for application, I encourage them to apply and help them navigate the process."

Mindie H. Nguyen, MD, MAS, FAASLD, AGAF

"As a hepatologist, I am often approached to serve as a mentor for residents who are either already decided or contemplating applying for a GI fellowship and also already have some interests in hepatology, so I think they all would be great candidates for this program. They can learn what hepatology is all about by seeing the rich diversity of medical and scientific topics of the field and the people who make up this field. They can become a full-time hepatologist or a gastroenterologist who is well informed about this field, both of which will contribute to advance hepatology and the care of hepatology patients."

Oren K. Fix, MD, MSc

"It's not hard to identify that special resident who shows an interest in hepatology at an early stage. My mentees have come to my attention by actively participating in clinical and research experiences in hepatology. I hoped that attending The Liver Meeting® as an Emerging Liver Scholar would help to solidify their interest in a career in hepatology. I think it's much more difficult to identify the resident who may not be ‘differentiated' or yet show a keen interest in hepatology. There are many bright residents who might consider pursuing a career in hepatology if exposed to the right environment and mentorship. I think the Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program is ideally suited for this kind of resident."

How does AASLD and the field of hepatology benefit from bringing these residents to The Liver Meeting®?

Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD

"The field of hepatology is expanding, we need new blood. There is no better time to start than to catch residents who are interested in hepatology but do not know enough of the field to decide if this is something they want to do for the rest of their career. Each of the residents who have been through this program leaves the meeting energized and excited. Although the program is still in its early days, most have indicated they WILL become hepatologists."

Mindie H. Nguyen, MD, MAS, FAASLD, AGAF

"I have mentored many trainees at various levels starting with undergraduate students, and what I have observed over the years is that younger trainees are more broad-based and are still in the formative stage of their lives. We have a greater chance of making a larger and/or longer-lasting impact on such trainees. Residents are exposed to a wide variety of medical disciplines during this stage of training and are often searching for the field in which they would want to spend the rest of their professional careers. It is, therefore, a great time and opportunity for us to bring the residents to The Liver Meeting® for an "immersion" experience which may inspire and encourage life-long learning and dedication to the patients and field of hepatology."

Oren K. Fix, MD, MSc

"Hepatology is a relatively small world but can seem daunting to a resident. Similarly, The Liver Meeting® is often overwhelming for many, especially trainees. The Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program not only helps the resident overcome the financial barrier to attending The Liver Meeting® but, by providing a structured and mentored program, the resident is introduced to AASLD and the field of hepatology in a non-threatening way. It's so easy to feel out of place in this environment but AASLD helps bring the meeting and the senior leadership to the trainee. I believe AASLD makes it clear to the trainee that their opinions matter and the future of AASLD depends on their engagement early on. By getting involved at an early stage, residents build relationships and grow their networks rapidly; they are exposed to opportunities for committee work and eventually leadership positions. It's clear that the investment in the Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program and in trainees in general benefits AASLD and hepatology because they are the future of our society and our specialty."

What would you say to a fellow AASLD member to encourage them to invite their mentee to apply for the AASLD Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program?

Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD

"This is such a great opportunity for our mentees, I cannot think of any reason why any of my colleagues would not want their mentee to have the chance to be selected. Not only do the mentees get all their expenses to The Liver Meeting® covered, they get to experience the excitement of the research that is presented. They also get to meet and network with their peers and the leaders in hepatology and AASLD. Being selected as an AASLD Emerging Liver Scholar is an honor that will increase the mentee's chances of getting into a top fellowship program and the connections they make will benefit them for the rest of their career."

Mindie H. Nguyen, MD, MAS, FAASLD, AGAF

"I think we all should encourage our mentees to apply for this program, it will surely be a benefit for both them and the field. I think it is very important for trainees to feel part of the field and for young residents to just be part of a medical community. I believe the knowledge learned from scientific sessions and, even more importantly, the exposure and interaction with colleagues in the field that the residents will get from this experience will inspire great commitment and productivity."

Oren K. Fix, MD, MSc

"Most medical students and residents choose a specialty based in large part on their mentors and role models throughout school and early training. We have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of a trainee and ensure the future of our specialty through early engagement and mentorship. Most of us interact with bright and promising residents on a daily basis. Whether they have expressed an interest in a career in hepatology or they might consider it if provided with the right experiences and role models, they may benefit from the Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program. There's really nothing to lose and much to gain for both resident and mentor. The motivated resident will complete the brief application and potentially earn an all-expenses paid trip to The Liver Meeting®. The mentor gets an opportunity to introduce the meeting and AASLD to the resident, and potentially enlist a future hepatologist."

Find out more about The Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of a trainee and ensure the future of our specialty through early engagement and mentorship.
There's really nothing to lose and much to gain for both resident and mentor."


- Oren K. Fix, MD, MSc