Dr. Elizabeth A. Decker has joined University Gastroenterology. She is fellowship-trained in gastroenterology and board-certified in internal medicine, earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island before earning her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2011.
Decker trained in internal medicine at St. Petersburg General Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital in Florida, then returned to Rhode Island to pursue her specialty training in gastroenterology at Kent Hospital. She is a native of West Greenwich. Providence Business News spoke with Decker about her training and continuing career in Rhode Island.
PBN: Can you tell us a little about your time growing up in West Greenwich?
DECKER: It was great growing up in West Greenwich, a close-knit, rural community, where everyone seems to know one another. As a child, I always had an interest in science, which during high school developed more toward learning about the human body, anatomy and physiology.
PBN: When did you start thinking about a medical career?
DECKER: As I continued studying science at the University of Rhode Island, working in medicine seemed natural. There are so many career options in health care, and with the intensive training necessary to become a physician, I focused on learning how the health care system worked with all of its components.
After completing my undergraduate education, I worked for a year in the microbiology lab at Rhode Island Hospital. At this time, it became clear to me that I missed interacting with patients, as well as utilizing problem-solving skills to diagnose medical conditions, and started applying to medical schools.
PBN: You also completed a fellowship at Kent Hospital. Can you tell us a little about that, too?
DECKER: I had an amazing experience training at Kent Hospital. As a community hospital, it allowed me to train in the setting that I ultimately saw myself practicing in while still gaining exposure to a large breadth of pathology that one would expect from a larger center. Being a smaller training program, it allowed for me to obtain a high volume of procedural exposure and the ability for me to refine my skills and efficiencies early on.
PBN: What do you find the most compelling element of gastroenterology today? What interesting advances in the field are you looking forward to?
DECKER: Large advancements are being made every day in many aspects of gastroenterology, making our field incredibly exciting. New therapy options for inflammatory bowel disease, ablation techniques for Barrett’s esophagus, endoscopic techniques to treat structural risk factors for poorly controlled reflux disease in a nonsurgical manner, and a deepening understanding of the microbiome with its interplay in many disease processes have all been very invigorating.
PBN: Can you share a story about your time training in gastroenterology?
DECKER: Fellowship training involved a lot of long days and late nights. There were times we found ourselves transporting patients at 10 p.m. to the [operating room] and back or driving into the emergency department at 1 a.m. during a snowstorm for an emergent case. However, no matter the circumstance, I was very fortunate to have been trained by a group of physicians who were always willing to go the extra mile for their patients, able to see the bright side in things and truly enjoy what they do.
Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.