AGA Community is an online forum, library and directory that launched in April 2016, providing a secure, AGA member-only network to connect colleagues based on their professional interests. The social platform creates a progressive year-round forum for collaboration with peers outside of the conference, lab, classroom or clinic.
It has naturally evolved into a sounding board for physicians and researchers alike, with case-based questions and journal-club type inquiries fluctuating throughout posts. You’ve probably seen the de-identified patient cases in the forum — clinicians bring forward their questions regarding specific and often unusual cases. With the vast breadth and depth of experience among AGA members, physicians get a varied and valuable second opinion for these cases and other questions that may come up in their day-to-day. The AGA Community has also uncovered controversial and original topics by working hand-in-hand with AGA Perspectives, spurring a healthy dialogue with the potential to augment the future of the GI field. For example, Paul Moayyedi, MB, CHB, PhD, MPH, AGAF, authored a piece for the August/September 2016 issue of AGA Perspectives on the adverse effects of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), comparing some recent studies with the rise of reality television.
The article sparked a discussion among members in the AGA Community and raised additional questions for clinicians to consider: “On the other hand, don’t you feel that PPIs are being grossly overprescribed?” “How about good old H2 blockers?” “What is the place for H2 antagonist in stopping PPIs or as primary treatment for non-erosive reflux symptoms?” This natural connection between AGA Perspectives and AGA Community creates a platform for the voices of opposition, innovators, pioneers and leaders alike. The give and take has proven that you don’t have to agree with what’s being shared, and that voicing your thoughts and opinions strengthens the forum’s ability to move the field forward. As Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology (CMGH) Associate Editor Jim Goldenring, MD, PhD, AGAF, mentioned in a recent CMGH column,1, healthy scientific discourse and an exchange of ideas ultimately can enrich the GI field. An example of this is a conversation about injuries to the endoscopist. Posted anonymously in the beginning of May, the post notes that 89 percent of gastroenterologists obtain musculoskeletal injuries and brings up a concern for the careers of endoscopists everywhere. The member asks “Besides ergonomics, is it worth looking at preventative measures that endoscopists can take to minimize and prevent injuries?”
The resounding response to this discussion, which is one of the top five discussions in the forum to date, was that GIs aren’t taught about the biomechanics of repetitive movement injuries and that this subject needs to be studied in more detail. This helped AGA leadership recognize the importance of this issue and led them to create a working group to support the cause.
Recent conversations have exposed honest sentiments on maintenance of certification (MOC) and the future of the board exam. With the American Board of Internal Medicine’s ongoing announcements to change MOC, both AGA members stepped up to the mic to address next steps, concerns and objectives to keep clinicians informed. Don’t forget: When you share your thoughts in the forum, you’re speaking directly to decision makers on issues that impact your day-to-day, whether it’s a large issue such as MOC or something on a smaller scale, like local-level payor issue or your opposing view on the latest AGA Perspectives counterpoint article.
Hopefully by this point you’ve visited community.gastro.org, but if you’re still unsure or perhaps questioning what you can add to the discussion forum, you’re not alone. Staff and leaders have received helpful feedback from members — specifically early career GIs — who question what they can add to a discussion when an expert in the field has already chimed in. To include early-career GIs and create a safe space to ask questions, we’re creating a separate group for fellows, trainees and GIs who are within seven years out of their fellowship program.
The Early Career Group — scheduled to launch this Spring — will host a calendar of relevant deadlines and conferences, regular Ask-Me-Anything sessions with subject-matter experts, and a library of webinars, articles and tip sheets. The forum will feature virtual events to discuss patient cases and high-impact research, and a career corner will consolidate resources that outline what to expect during the job search, tips and supplementary résumé tools. We hope to see your questions and opinions in the AGA Community forum in 2017. You can start with your thoughts on endoscopic eradication therapy for confirmed low-grade dysplasia. Which side are you on?
1. Goldenring, JR. ”What Ever Happened to Scientific Conversation?” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2016. Volume 2 , Issue 3 , 251 – 252