The GI Hive is a brand-new blog from the UEG Young Talent Group (YTG) that covers the most up-to-date information about life, career development, education and opportunities for young gastroenterologist in Europe. Interviews, infographics, WhatsApp conversations and videos with both junior and renowned gastroenterologists will all be published in the GI Hive on a regular basis.
Our latest guest in the GI Hive is Ivana Mikolasevic, a member of the UEG YTG and an associate professor in Rijeka, Croatia. In December 2018, Ivana and a group of young gastroenterologists from the Croatian Young GI section (Tomislav Bokun, Maja Mijić, Sanja Stojsavljević, Nadija Skenderević, Ana Ostojić, Viktor Domislović, Ivan Jakopčić, Petra Puž) are holding the first European Conference of Young Gastroenterologists in Zagreb, Croatia. Ivana is president of the organizing committee and shared a few words with us about the conference and the Croatian Young GI Section.
There are still countries in Europe without a young GI section and the YTG has published a paper on how to start one. Could you tell us how everything started in your country and about the organisation of the Croatian Young GI section and its activities?
We revived the inactive youth section of our national society of gastroenterology in 2013. We first started having meetings during national society meetings/congresses, following the organisation of dedicated sessions for young gastroenterologists when they presented their best scientific work.
Then we took over the administration of our society's webpage and gradually the idea of having our own meeting grew. At the beginning of 2017 we organised the first three-day symposium dedicated to members of the youth section: it was a great success and was repeated early this year.
To be honest, as we are a rather small community, we were sceptical about having our own meeting, but it eventually appeared to become almost like a necessity and the occasion all young members eagerly awaited—to meet each other and be able to discuss common interests and problems. Our senior colleagues have been extremely supportive of all our activities, so we would suggest that young gastroenterologists start activities for themselves in their own countries without fear, and that they ask for support of any kind from senior colleagues.
How did you decide to organise the first European Conference of Young Gastroenterologists (ECYG)?
So, I talked in front of our small ECYG team—Tomislav Bokun, Maja Mijić, Sanja Stojsavljević, Nadija Skenderević, Ana Ostojić, Viktor Domislović, Ivan Jakopčić, Petra Puž and me. The idea for the conference organisation was born within the Youth Section of the Croatian Society of Gastroenterology, with a desire to stimulate and strengthen international cooperation.
We already have annual meetings of the youth section when we discuss how to improve our education; we hold lectures about specific topics in digestive health and so on. We wanted to do the same thing with this conference but on a European level, because we have all had such good experiences making contact with colleagues from other countries who we met on courses and congresses we have attended during our education. Therefore, we wanted to create something that would be focused on young gastroenterologists and their networking, under the supervision of senior experts established in specific fields of gastroenterology.
The idea of gathering together as many young GIs as possible so that we can make new contacts and share experiences made us enthusiastic, although, at first, none of us were probably aware of exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Then, once we put down all the assignments on paper, we rolled up our sleeves and started working.
What can young GIs learn by attending the ECYC?
This is the first conference targeting young gastroenterologist from all over Europe with the purpose of exchanging experience, knowledge and ideas with eminent professors and researchers. The main idea of the conference is for us, young gastroenterologists, to have a chance to present our most challenging clinical cases and discuss them with our peers and acknowledged experts in the field. Furthermore, ECYG gives us the opportunity to present our clinical and scientific work in a poster presentation form. Not only that, during hands-on sessions young delegates will be able to improve their manual skills in abdominal ultrasound, Colour Doppler, elastography and endoscopy.
Moreover, this conference will enable us to initiate constructive and productive dialogues and to create a network for future collaboration with colleagues all over Europe. Finally, to enable us to achieve this goal, interaction will be encouraged and stimulated throughout the conference.
What are the most important messages from the conference?
Learn. Connect. Grow. It doesn’t matter if you come from a big or small country, region or hospital—if you try to give the best of yourself, as we, people from a small country, are trying to do by organising this conference, you can succeed in anything.
Finally, our wish is that this project stimulates the awareness of young people about the need for teamwork, co-operation and education, both within their own centre and among other centres. Our small team wants to stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration needed in everyday practice to succeed.
Another important point is the apparent need for organising events and programs dedicated to young GIs. This conference is another 'proof of concept' for gathering young GIs in youth GI sections and organising events for them. We believe that every nation should have their own young GI section and all their own meetings, and we also call for close collaboration in organising hopefully future ECYGs. We invite you to view the YTG section of the UEG webpage for more information on activities for young GIs within UEG and to get into contact with the YTG and also Friends of YTG countries around Europe.
We also invite you to share your experience about organizing events for young GIs as this could help us to improve the quality of ECYG. Fresh ideas are also warmly welcomed!
To improve our knowledge, we have to work together and exchange our ideas, so we can approach complex medical problems from every angle. The future of the field lies with young gastroenterologists, but the knowledge lies with those who are less young. We want to transfer knowledge into the future.
What are your insights for the future of the conference?
Well, we want to do it all over again! Call us crazy, but so far this has been such a great experience and we are sure it will continue this way until and during the conference. We hope that we will get good feedback and reviews, so we can show that a small country like Croatia can do something big as this when people work together.
Interviewer: Radislav Nakov