Meet the Doctor: Michelle DeLeon, MD
Michelle DeLeon, MD, is a colorectal surgeon at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. She sees patients at Einstein Colon and Rectal Surgery offices in Blue Bell and Elkins Park. Dr. DeLeon is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.
We recently spoke with Dr. DeLeon about her career, her interests and colorectal surgery at Einstein.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: My parents are physicians, so growing up, our dinner conversations revolved around interesting patients. I saw both the rewarding and frustrating aspects of medicine. As I progressed through college, my parents were always very supportive of my career endeavors, whether it was in medicine or not. Despite their positive influence, the fact that they were both physicians initially drew me away from medicine, because I wanted to have my own career, pave my own path. But I was always interested in science and volunteering in hospitals and clinics. With that, combined with the positive influence of my parents, I decided to pursue a career in medicine, as I realized as a physician I could really help people in a meaningful way.
Q: Tell us about your education and training.
A: I went to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia for medical school. I was at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for my general surgery residency. That was five clinical years and one year of research. Then I did my colorectal surgery fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Q: How did you choose your specialty?
A: Throughout residency, I was always drawn towards taking care of cancer patients. I initially thought I wanted to be a surgical oncologist, which is a surgeon who treats all types of cancer. But what I love about colorectal surgery, and treating colon cancer, is that I have the ability to take care of these patients in all phases of the disease – from the prevention stage with colonoscopy to the treatment stage with surgery. The surgery and the therapy we provide can cure patients of their cancer, and the majority of patients have a good prognosis. I enjoy being part of a multidisciplinary team when patients need chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. I have also found much reward in following these patients long term, as I continue to see them for many years after their surgery.
Q: What are some of your clinical interests?
A: I’ve always been very interested in cancer and the different surgical techniques for treating it. We’re seeing more and more young people presenting with colorectal cancer at an alarming rate, so this has become a hot area of research. I’ve also been very involved in robotic surgery. Robotics enables me to do more difficult cases in a minimally invasive way, as the technology allows for wrist-like movements. It’s almost like operating with your hands. It has really changed the way colorectal surgery is performed today.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
A: I was primarily looking in this area because I grew up in South Jersey, and many of my friends and family live close to Philadelphia. One of my good friends’ sister, who was a surgeon here, had wonderful things to say about Einstein. She said it was a great working environment and that my future partners would be great to work with. There had never been a colorectal surgeon at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery before, so I thought building this program would be an exciting opportunity.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for colorectal surgery?
A: We have a great colorectal team here. At Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, we’ve just hired a new physician assistant who’s helped to expand the practice. Between the nurses in the hospital and the team in the office, we provide excellent care from the moment you step into the office to the day you’re discharged from the hospital. We provide minimally invasive surgery for all colorectal conditions, whether it be cancer, diverticulitis or any other benign disease. This allows patients a faster recovery, shorter hospital stay and earlier return to their normal routine.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I love spending time with my husband and our two Dobermans, Duke and Zoe. We enjoy taking them to parks and on long walks through the many trails around Philadelphia. I love physical exercise and group classes. I used to do a lot of yoga, barre and boot camp classes in the area. Unfortunately, with COVID group classes have no longer been an option, but I now get my exercise in our home gym and running outdoors.
Q: Did you have an early role model?
A: My dad was and still is my biggest role model. He’s probably been the most influential person in my career. He’s also a colorectal surgeon and he loves his job more than anyone I’ve ever met. He talks about medicine with the same excitement that he probably did 30 years ago, so I think that that has really influenced me a lot in a very positive way.
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: My favorite book is Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover. My favorite audio book is Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. It’s also a memoir. It provides a very positive attitude and perspective on life that is very well written and narrated.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: My favorite movie is A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. It’s a great movie about women’s baseball and overcoming adversity.
Q: Speaking of sports, do you have a favorite sports team?
A: The Eagles. Despite a difficult year, I’m an Eagles fan through and through.
Q: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
A: I love traveling to the Philippines. We have a lot of family there, so we go about every five years to visit them, usually over Christmas. In addition to family, the Philippines has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, particularly in Palawan and Boracay .
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
A: Oh yes, Barbuzzo. It’s a tiny Mediterranean-Italian restaurant in Center City with small plates. I used to go there a lot when I was in medical school.
Q: Is there some interesting fact that most people don’t know about you?
A: One fun fact is that I’ve done some trapeze. When I was in high school, I was a competitive cheerleader. I was very much into gymnastics and things like that, so it only made sense that I would enjoy something like trapeze as well. I had the opportunity to take some classes when I was on vacation in Turks and Caicos, and it was a lot of fun.
Learn more about colorectal cancer care at Einstein.