Dr Gillian Gaskin was ecstatic to receive the Gastroenterology Foundation Award for Best Presentation by a Fellow at the South African Gastroenterology Society (SAGES) Congress that was recently held in Pretoria.
A gastroenterology fellow at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), Gaskin delivered an eight-minute oral presentation on the first day of the congress. She presented on the available modalities used in the diagnostic work-up of patients with intestinal tuberculosis (TB).
The challenge in differentiating intestinal TB from Crohn’s disease, as well as the potential role of intestinal ultrasound in the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of patients with intestinal TB, was also highlighted in the talk. ‘Given the paucity of research pertaining to intestinal ultrasound use in intestinal TB diagnosis and monitoring, we hope to do further research on the topic and present the findings at the next SAGES congress’ she said.
Gaskin said that a high TB burden exists in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and intestinal TB is one of the extrapulmonary tuberculosis presentations that is not often discussed or highlighted, so when these fascinating cases come through the department, it made sense to share them with colleagues.
She explained that gastroenterology is one of the most diverse and exciting specialties, ‘…it is fast growing and high paced. I love that I can work in a scope room one day and at the bedside or clinic the next.’ She said she enjoys that they get to interact with other healthcare professionals as part of multidisciplinary teams – from surgeons, to histopathologists, oncologists, dieticians, nurses, radiologists, and many more.
Gaskin completed her MBChB degree (cum laude) in 2008 at UKZN. She remained in KZN and completed her internship and community service in the Pietermaritzburg Complex. She completed registrar training in Internal Medicine and obtained her master’s in 2017 from UKZN. She worked as a consultant physician at Harry Gwala Regional Hospital in Pietermaritzburg from 2016 until she transferred to a Gastroenterology Fellowship post at IALCH in September 2022.
She said it felt great for her work to receive recognition at the congress. ‘I was truly surprised and honoured, and I was grateful for the opportunity to present on such a huge platform. I’m also thankful for the input from my colleagues in the Departments of Gastroenterology, Anatomical Pathology and Radiology.
Gaskin hopes to complete her training as a gastroenterologist and move back to the Pietermaritzburg area to work and serve there. ‘I would like to pursue further research in the field and potentially embark on advanced endoscopic courses to bring much-needed skills and expertise to South Africa.’
She advises doctors who wish to specialise in gastroenterology to ‘go for it! You won’t regret it. It’s an amazing field with an ever-advancing landscape. The balance of clinical work and procedure-based work will make every day an enjoyable one.’
Words: Lunga Memela