Objective: To find which procedures gastroenterologists do in their practice, where they learned the procedures, and what training they recommend to achieve and maintain competence in each.
Design: Mailed survey.
Participants: A random sample of 700 gastroenterologists who were members of the American College of Physicians, of whom 510 (73%) responded.
Results: Gastroenterologists did a median of 27 of the 40 gastroenterology procedures and 3 of the 16 general medicine procedures. A larger number of different procedures was done by those who were board certified in gastroenterology, spent more than 60 hours per week in patient care, graduated after 1969, or practiced in a university setting, a hospital with 250 to 500 beds, or a group limited to gastroenterologists. The majority of respondents had done each of the three most commonly done procedures 200 or more times in the previous year. For 10 procedures studied in detail, the majority had done 9 of the 10 in the past year at least as often as the median recommendation for maintaining competence. The number of procedures recommended to achieve and maintain competence differed little by the age, type of practice, and gastroenterology board certification status of the respondent. For most procedures, the range of recommendations was broad, but the median numbers agreed with other published recommendations. Respondents learned 31% of procedures after they had completed training. The earlier their training, the more likely they had learned the procedure in practice.
Conclusions: Gastroenterologists do many different procedures, and this number is influenced by how recently they were trained and the nature of their practice. Respondents learned nearly one third of the procedures they do after they had completed training. It is an important and continuing challenge for the profession to assure that physicians learn and maintain these procedural skills at the highest level of proficiency.