International Women

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Applications

Championing Opportunities for Women in Advanced Endoscopy

There are several resources for gastroenterologists that seek to address some of these challenges, including mentorship and networking opportunities.

Female medical graduates outnumber male counterparts in every country except Japan and Switzerland. But, as more women opt into the profession, female gastroenterologist numbers remain stagnant.

This is particularly true in fourth tier advanced endoscopy, especially physicians specializing in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) procedures.

In honor of International Women’s Day 2021, Single-Use Endoscopy is shining a spotlight on unique challenges women face and the work underway to remove barriers that may keep women from reaching top leadership or advanced procedural positions in the endoscopy suite.

Ergonomic Challenges

A 2019 review in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy suggests a better understanding of the unique risks faced by pregnant women in endoscopy would help inform ergonomic changes that could keep women safe during and after pregnancy. This is especially important as the average age for the start of GI endoscopy residency is 30, possibly coinciding with childbearing for women.

ERCP’s challenging ergonomics have long been documented, and some of these physical challenges are exacerbated for women. A survey conducted by the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) found that most pregnant women reported physical side effects of their job worsened during pregnancy.

Most endoscopists, male or female, do not receive special ergonomic training, according to a recent ACG survey. Researchers concluded more is needed to support ergonomics training for fellows.

Creating Community

In the 2018-2019 academic year, women accounted for 12 percent of the advanced endoscopy fellows matched through the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Research shows that the gender disparity among endoscopists grows as training progresses.

ERCP and EUS, both advanced endoscopic procedures, are therefore not typically performed by women. This can pose challenges as female patients often seek female providers, especially for intimate gastrointestinal procedures. 

A survey of 2018-19 program directors for the ASGE match yielded different potential reasons for the low percentage of women matched in fellowships that year. Program directors pointed to difficult or inflexible schedules, a shortage of women endoscopists at national conferences, and a lack of female mentorship.

There are several resources for gastroenterologists that seek to address some of these challenges, including mentorship and networking opportunities.

Notably, the nonprofit Women in Endoscopy (WIE) was founded five years ago to provide classes and seminars about professional growth and leadership. The organization also hosts informal gatherings at large conferences to promote health and self-care and allow for networking opportunities among members. 

Other groups championing women in the field and providing support include:

More Gastroenterology Articles
How Often Should IBD Patients Undergo Colonoscopy?
Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Applications
Colorectal cancer patients who had undergone the surveillance procedure within a year of diagnosis had lower mortality rates than those who did not.
Endoscopists Detail Multifaceted Approach to Infection Prevention
Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Applications
Two advanced endoscopists outline the challenges in infection prevention in ERCP and discuss the potential for single-use endoscopy as part of a comprehensive solution.
More From Single-Use Endoscopy
As an extension of our hands, phones must be considered when it comes to contamination

Patient Safety

It’s possible that anesthesiologists, clinicians, and other hospital staff can introduce infections into operating rooms unknowingly, via contaminated mobile devices.

The hope is that awareness of the dysphagia problem will inspire new research and help connect people to resources for help.

Public Health

Swallowing is something that many people take for granted — yet for those who experience difficulty doing it, the challenges can drastically alter their quality of life.

No Outbreak, No Problem? Duodenoscopes May Still Harbor Contamination

Preventing Infection

A recent study found more than 5 percent of reprocessed duodenoscopes harbor “high-concern” organisms despite the lack of an infection outbreak.