Photo of Esther Israel, MD
Esther Israel, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

What inspired you to go into medicine?

I decided to go into medicine when I was in high school after my brother entered medical school. I did well in and enjoyed math and science. Medicine made sense as a career, which could incorporate some of those skills and my desire to “do good” and help people. When I went to medical school, 20 percent of my class was female, so it was becoming more common for women to go into medicine. In college, I worked for a primary care pediatrician and was exposed to thinking about different developmental stages, which drew me to pediatrics. As an intern in pediatrics, one of my first patients had a serious liver disease and I had the opportunity to take care of her throughout my residency, getting to know her and her family quite well . In addition, the digestive system innately just made sense to me. Pediatric Gastroenterology was a relatively young field when I started out, which was another draw because it would allow for some innovative approaches.

What do you do as a provider at MGHfC?

As a provider, I primarily see patients in the outpatient department at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, with a specific focus on liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease. I have a particular interest in patient centeredness, and I actively work at engaging the patient and the family in their care through education and other resources, such as eliciting Patient Related Outcome Measures of success and shared decision making. In addition to outpatient care, I share in the inpatient care of patients with gastroenterologic and liver problems, and perform procedures such as upper endoscopy and colonoscopy, when necessary.

What gives you the greatest joy in your profession?

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work in a variety of positions, almost seamlessly moving from fellow in training to attending physician, from working in a lab to an administrator. I enjoy the mix of roles I have – the clinician taking care of patients at the bedside and in the outpatient setting, getting to know patients and families through the course of their chronic illness and helping to engage them all in learning about and co-managing their problems. The other aspect of my work, which is quite satisfying, is serving as the Department of Pediatric's leader in a relatively new area in health care, ensuring the quality and safety of the hospital and care experience.

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