What inspired you to go into medicine?
I became interested in becoming a pediatric gastroenterologist based on my own family experience. I had many family members who experienced gastronintestinal (GI) symptoms, some diagnosed and some not. My sister, with whom I went to high school, had ulcerative colitis and was hospitalized occasionally during our high school years. She eventually required surgery. My mother had serious GI illnesses and, like my sister, required hospitalization and surgery for her problems. I remember well the first day in medical school when a lecturer told us that he would be introducing us to the gastrointestinal system. I sat up and leaned forward a bit, knowing that I would find special interest in the topic. I have always found interest in diseases involving the digestive tract.
What do you do as a provider at MGHfC?
I do several things as a provider here at MGHfC. I am a member of the Pediatric Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Disease Center with Uzma Shah, MBBS, and Esther Israel, MD. We see patients together and share experiences, thoughts and treatment plans for patients who have complex needs with liver diseases. We are all involved with the Pediatric Liver Transplant program and have seen the life-saving results of very ill patients recover and thrive after a transplant.
I am a founding member of the Airway, Voice and Swallowing Center, a collaborative program with MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. We see children with symptoms that range across our four subspecialties: gastroenterology, otolaryngology, pulmonology and speech/language pathology. By combining our experience, we can help children who have symptoms that others have not been able to help. Children with chronic cough, recurrent croup, feeding difficulties, recurrent pneumonia, poor weight gain and other symptoms have been able to improve their quality of life as we have worked on multi-subspecialty plans.
Finally I oversee the medical education of students who choose our elective in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Medical teaching remains a one-on-one art. We train 1-2 students each month, exposing them to pediatric GI, but also to our department of Pediatrics at MGHfC.
What gives you the greatest joy in your profession?
I’m sure that my answers to this question would be trite. Obviously, medical professionals derive real happiness from seeing someone move from a state of serious illness, disability and depression to a new life without limitations. I am so happy to see someone move from a state of very serious illness (sometimes with concerns about basic survival) to an independent life with a restored sense of confidence that they will live a long and meaningful life.