Meet the Doctor: Michael Goldberg, DO
Michael Goldberg, DO, is Chair of the Division of Gastroenterology, part of the Department of Digestive Disease and Transplantation at Einstein Healthcare Network. One of his clinical specialties is therapeutic endoscopy, performing complex procedures using an endoscope, an instrument with a camera on the end of a flexible tube.
We recently talked with Dr. Goldberg about his career, his interests, and gastroenterology at Einstein.
Perspectives: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
Dr. Goldberg: I had an early exposure to the health care industry with my father being an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and my mother being a lab technologist. I had the opportunity to observe many of my father’s procedures and interactions with patients during summers I would spend working with him. I had always felt great satisfaction being able to help others and felt I could best do this in the medical field.
Perspectives: What is your education background?
Dr. Goldberg: I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and had the opportunity to stay close to home to attend the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school. I completed my residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii and a gastroenterology fellowship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. I completed my training with a therapeutic and interventional endoscopy fellowship at the University of Maryland at Baltimore Shock Trauma in Baltimore.
Perspectives: Why did you choose gastroenterology as a specialty?
Dr. Goldberg: After rotating through the medicine specialties during residency, I was looking for a specialty that was procedural based and that had the best variety of patients. I had the opportunity to do a gastroenterology rotation early during residency and immediately knew it was the perfect match. Having the opportunity to perform procedures while caring for sick patients, as well as healthy adults for screening, is exactly what I was looking for. I am so lucky that the decision I made then has allowed me to do something every day that I truly love and enjoy.
Perspectives: You started your medical career in the military. Tell us about your experiences.
Dr. Goldberg: After gaining acceptance to medical school, I became aware of an opportunity to join the military as a physician. My internship and residency at Tripler Army Medical Center was an amazing experience, as Tripler was the medical center for the entire Pacific rim and this exposed me to a wide variety of patients.
During my residency, I was lucky to travel the world providing medical care in different capacities. I traveled to Kenya and worked for a month in the Kericho District Hospital and at one of the military HIV research centers. I worked for a month at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, caring for injured soldiers from Iraq prior to them being transferred stateside.
After completing three years of residency, I became the Brigade Surgeon for the 45th Sustainment Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and deployed to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Having the opportunity to care for our fighting soldiers was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.
Upon returning from Afghanistan, I was accepted into a gastroenterology fellowship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I completed a three-year fellowship and was selected as the only fellow in my class to complete training in therapeutic and interventional endoscopy.
After my medical training had been completed, I served as the Chief of Gastroenterology and the only interventional endoscopist at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for four years. I served in the U.S. Army for a total of 11 years and was honorably discharged in 2017 after completing my commitment and I returned home to Philadelphia.
The training and experience I received in the military was second to none, and I had the honor of caring for our active-duty soldiers, their dependents, and also veterans, which I will cherish forever.
Perspectives: When did you come to Einstein, and what drew you here?
Dr. Goldberg: I joined the Einstein team earlier this year in January of 2019. After leaving the military in 2017, I joined a local gastroenterology group. When the Einstein position became available, I was very excited. Growing up in the greater Philadelphia area, Einstein’s reputation was well known, and I even had the opportunity to rotate at Einstein as a medical student. Throughout the interview process, I was continuously impressed with the leadership of the health network and was lucky enough to be offered the position of Associate Chair in the Division of Gastroenterology.
Perspectives: You mentioned the importance of screening for healthy people. Can you explain how colon cancer screening detects problems in their early stages?
Dr. Goldberg: Colon cancer is mostly a preventable disease. Our goal in preventative medicine is to diagnose any problems or conditions early to prevent progression of the disease. An excellent example of this is screening colonoscopy. Our goal is to find polyps that, if not removed, would have the potential to progress to colon cancer. By removing these pre-cancerous lesions, the disease process is halted.
There are other modalities for colon cancer screening and they all have benefits and drawbacks. The important thing is that patients understand that this is a preventable disease and they must have the discussion with their primary physician or gastroenterologist to discuss screening.
Out of the larger cities in the United States, Philadelphia has one of the lowest colon cancer screening rates. At Einstein, we are on a mission to improve this, including a partnership with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, a national nonprofit organization. We have set up a special “Direct Access” program to allow select patients to directly schedule a colonoscopy without requiring an office visit, and have made a seamless process for primary physicians to refer their patients for screening colonoscopy.
Perspectives: What are your other clinical interests?
Dr. Goldberg: I am a therapeutic endoscopist and perform several procedures not performed by all gastroenterologists. I perform specialized procedures including removal of gallstones from the bile duct, placing stents into the bile duct for blockages, draining cysts internally through the stomach without a need for external drains, and performing staging of all gastrointestinal cancers by endoscopic ultrasound. We have a new state-of-the-art advanced endoscopy room at our endoscopy center at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia where all of these procedures can be performed.
Perspectives: What’s new in gastroenterology at Einstein?
Dr. Goldberg: Now that I have joined the team at Einstein, we have two full-time advanced endoscopists at Einstein Gastroenterology and are performing advanced procedures, including endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound with numerous interventions, and complex polypectomies. We will soon be performing non-surgical endoscopic treatments for diseases such as reflux. Our motility program continues to grow and can diagnose/treat patients with any gastrointestinal motility problems. With our recent growth, we are now able to treat any gastrointestinal or hepatic disease process or symptom, all within our network of hospitals. There are still more exciting opportunities on the horizon for gastroenterology at Einstein.
- Specialty: Gastroenterology, therapeutic and interventional endoscopy
- Interests: Spending time with my family, football, basketball, racquetball, camping, hiking
- Favorite vacation spot: Hawaii
- Early role models: My grandparents, who were both Holocaust survivors
- Interesting fact: I have driven across the country seven total times (southern route five times and northern route two times).