The objective of the gastroenterology elective is to provide medical students with a well-rounded learning experience in gastroenterology and hepatology that is integral to the specialty of internal medicine. This elective is geared towards medical students and covers topics in general gastroenterology, hepatology, transplant hepatology, and advanced endoscopy. Inpatient and outpatient experiences are available to students who choose to undertake the elective.

Students who select an inpatient elective will be exposed to a variety of educational opportunities. Inpatient gastroenterology and hepatology consultative teams are composed of attending physicians, gastroenterology fellows, medical house staff, and medical students. Students who select an outpatient elective will also have a variety of learning experiences. Students who opt for the outpatient experience will work closely with a gastroenterology or hepatology attending physician.

Inpatient Gastroenterology and Hepatology Rotations

Medical house staff may rotate on the inpatient gastroenterology (gut) service for general gastroenterology training. The service is consultative, and the medical residents rotating on the gut service will assess and co-manage patients with a variety of gastrointestinal disorders in conjunction with the GI fellow and attending. All consults are divided among house staff, students, and gastroenterology fellows rotating on the gut service. Work rounds are performed daily on the gut service, usually in the morning. Medical house staff who are assigned consults are expected to follow these patients during their hospital stay. House staff will be expected to complete a consult note for each patient and present these patients to the attending. They may write daily progress notes in conjunction with the gut attending. House staff are also encouraged to observe endoscopic procedures on inpatients, especially those cases where they have served as a consultant. The house staff is also encouraged to attend the GI educational conferences.

Medical students rotating on the inpatient hepatology service will be expected to follow patients admitted to the inpatient liver service in conjunction with the hepatology attending, gastroenterology fellow, and inpatient medical house staff. Hepatology consults will be divided among members of the liver team. The student will be exposed to pre and post transplant patients with a variety of liver diseases and their complications. Medical students will be expected to see assigned consults, write a consult note on the consult form, and present new consults to the liver team. Additionally, students will be expected to follow their patients during the hospital course. Work rounds are performed on a daily basis from 9:00 AM until 11:30 AM. During this time, all inpatients are presented by the inpatient medical house staff. This is an ideal opportunity to discuss relevant physiology and pathophysiology of a variety of liver diseases. If time permits, the inpatient hepatology attending will also discuss a topic of his or her choosing. It is expected that medical students rotating on the inpatient hepatology service will participate actively in daily work rounds. Students are invited to watch procedures on hepatology inpatients, especially those patients whom the student is following.

Outpatient Gastroenterology and Hepatology Rotations

House officers may also choose to do an elective on the outpatient gastroenterology and hepatology services. Outpatient services are provided at Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. House officers can also elect to participate in the care of pre- and post-transplant patients, in specialized transplantation clinic on two West PCAM. House staff will be expected to see selected new patients in the clinic and to present these patients to the attending physician. They will also follow attending physicians in the evaluation and assessment of patients who are returning to the clinic. House officers will be expected to participate actively in clinic and work closely with the attending physician.

Didactic Methods

A variety of educational experiences are available to house officers who rotate on the inpatient and outpatient gastroenterology and hepatology services. These include GI Journal Club on Mondays at 5pm, Pathology Conference on Tuesdays at 4pm, Clinical Case Conference and GI Grand Rounds on Wednesdays at 4:30pm and 5:30pm respectively, and GI core curriculum lectures on Thursdays (usually either 7am or 5pm – consult the fellows on service for the timing for each week). With the exception of Pathology Conference which is held in the pathology department, all other conferences are currently held in the Large Conference Room on the ninth floor of Penn Tower.

In addition to these conferences, house officers should take advantage of the “Residency Scholars program” that offers lectures in gastroenterology and hepatology at least six times per year from 8-8:45 AM on Thursdays in the 100 Centrex Conference room. House officers are also invited to attend the weekly Friday morning hepatobiliary tumor conference from 7-8:00 AM in the two Dulles Transplant Conference Room and the liver transplant selection committee meeting from 7-8:00AM every Friday in the two Dulles Transplant Conference Room.

Areas of Learning

During inpatient and outpatient gastroenterology and hepatology rotations, students will be exposed to a variety of gastrointestinal and hepatic disorders. Students will see patients with abdominal distension, abdominal pain, abnormal liver-associated enzymes, ascites, constipation, diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, dyspepsia, liver failure, nausea and vomiting, and dysphagia.

Students may also see patients with peptic ulcer disease, malignancies (gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, and pancreatic), acute and chronic pancreatitis, diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts, viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver diseases, metabolic liver diseases, complications of portal hypertension, end-stage liver disease necessitating transplantation, maldigestion and malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and intestinal obstruction and ischemia. 

Students rotating through inpatient and outpatient electives will understand the indications and contraindications of upper and lower endoscopy, ERCP, liver biopsy, and paracentesis. Students will also acquire knowledge in the interpretation of tests relevant to gastroenterology and hepatology. Students may be exposed to esophageal pH monitoring, interpretation of liver-associated enzymes and serologic tests, medical imaging relevant to gastroenterology and hepatology, and gastric acid analysis.


All students rotating through inpatient and outpatient gastroenterology and hepatology electives will be evaluated by their preceptors. The gastroenterology and hepatology programs will also expect feedback from students at the conclusion of the rotation.

Reading Material

All students rotating through inpatient and outpatient gastroenterology electives are free to use The Residency Scholar Program Reference list of timely articles relevant to gastroenterology and hepatology. A comprehensive set of PDFs is also provided covering an extensive array of gastrointestinal and hepatic diseases. The syllabus for the gastroenterology curriculum for the MOD2 pathophysiology course given to 1st year Penn medical students is also provided. Students may also choose to further their education through access to Virtual Curriculum 2000 which offers a variety of topics in gastroenterology and hepatology.

Course Reading List

Course Contact

David L. Jaffe, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine 
Clinical Director of Gastroenterology, Penn Medicine at Radnor, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Director of Endoscopy, Penn Medicine at Radnor
Director of GI Medical Student Education

3400 Civic Cener Blvd.
7th Floor, South Pavillion Expansion
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215-662-4279
Fax: 215-349-5915

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