Academic medicine has faced an alarming decline in recent years necessitating the realisation of an integrated academic training pathway. This initiative has enabled many graduates to enter a structured academic training environment potentially leading to the award of a higher degree. A period of out of programme research or experience remains popular with trainees in gastroenterology, with up to 20% of trainees undertaking this at any one time. Most trainees believe that possessing a higher degree leads to improved job aspects. However, it is our belief that undertaking a higher degree leads to a global enhancement of gastroenterological training. Firstly, undertaking a higher degree facilitates the development of a myriad of personal and professional skills ranging from communication, research, scientific, critical thinking, problem solving to time and project management. These multifaceted transferrable skills are as applicable to the bedside as to the bench and in our belief are highly desirable with potential employers. Secondly, the acquisition of a higher degree allows the trainee to develop a subspecialty interest and a network of contacts, both national and international, within one's chosen field. Finally, we argue that the addition of time in research to the training period allows personal and professional maturation hitherto less easily achieved in the standard training period of 5 years. Overall, pursuing a higher degree in gastroenterology is a pursuit of excellence, something we should all strive for.
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