Dr. Swaminath

Immersion Experience - Dr. Swaminath and the Visiting IBD Fellow program

Training the next generation of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) specialists is paramount to CCFA.  In order to encourage young gastroenterologists to specialize in treating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, CCFA offers a 30-day intensive training called the Visiting IBD Fellow (VIBD Fellow) program.  The program provides the best and the brightest GI Fellows from around the country the opportunity to apply for one of 18 VIBD fellow observerships.  Through 30 days of working with key opinion leaders, these talented young physicians are exposed to all aspects of IBD – from diagnosis, treatment, and surgery to long-term, maintenance support, including nutrition, clinical trials and psychosocial care.

CCFA needs skilled practitioners who understand the complexity of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.  One such practitioner is Arun Swaminath, M.D., a former Visiting IBD Fellow. 

Dr. Swaminath was about to start his last year of medical training to become a gastroenterologist when he learned about the VIBD Fellow program. In 2005, he spent a month as a Visiting IBD Fellow at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. 

“It was a complete immersion experience for me,” he says.  “I spent time in different clinics and saw how data was applied to individual patients and also the variation in how physicians approached various problems.”

The experience was invaluable and helped him confirm the direction he wanted to follow in his career.  Since then, Dr. Swaminath has gone on to help found the IBD Center at
Columbia University, where he has a busy practice treating patients.  He’s also at the forefront of clinical research.  Most recently, Dr. Swaminath agreed to serve as chair of the Chapter Medical Advisory Committee for CCFA’s Greater New York Chapter, where he will work closely with staff to provide education and support programming for patients, families, and healthcare providers serving the local IBD community.

Dr. Swaminath’s experience isn’t unique.  Since 2006, CCFA has provided this exceptional educational opportunity to 122 GI Fellows.  In 2010-2011, CCFA surveyed the past participants in the program to determine if they were using the skills and experience gained in their offices or practices.  Of the respondents, 96% felt they were a key resource for caring for IBD patients within their practices.

As the study demonstrates, CCFA, along with the dynamic host centers and faculty, is inspiring physicians to treat IBD patients and also helping to improve patients’ quality of life.

CCFA is grateful to all the current and past Visiting IBD Fellows for their commitment to the IBD community.  We look forward to the 2013-14 applicants!  Applications will be available in September 2012.