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Meet Dr. Nina Ferraris, GBMC Colorectal Surgeon

May 15, 2020
Having to find a new doctor can be a daunting task. It’s difficult to know whether they’ll be a good fit for you from just a biography and a photo online. In the series, “What’s Up, Dr. Dovec?” GBMC bariatric surgeon, Elizabeth Dovec, MD, FACS, FASMB, interviews providers across the GBMC HealthCare System so you can get to know them on a personal level and learn more about their specialties. In this episode, Dr. Dovec talked with Dr. Nina Ferraris about her path to becoming a colorectal surgeon, her team at GBMC, and the importance of making sure you get your screening colonoscopy.

Although she’s now a dedicated and accomplished surgeon, Dr. Ferraris told Dr. Dovec that she didn’t always know she wanted to practice medicine. “In my second year at NYU, where I did my undergraduate degree, I was doing research with a team of neurosurgeons,” she explained. “They brought me into the OR and that was it. I decided that rather than being a researcher, I wanted to practice medicine and bring the information that researchers uncover to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

After completing four years of medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine and five years of general surgery residency at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Ferraris came to GBMC for her fellowship training in colon and rectal surgery. “I chose GBMC for my fellowship because the program was more like an apprenticeship, giving you the opportunity to get close to your mentors and be somewhat independent, with their oversight of course. It’s a very different experience than you would have doing a fellowship at a large tertiary care center.”

Dr. Ferraris explained that her work includes more than people who have been diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. She also treats people with benign conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and other conditions that can significantly impact quality of life. “Getting treatment for these conditions can make a big difference in your quality of life and make you more comfortable so you can go about the rest of your life,” she said. “I always get the biggest hugs from my hemorrhoid patients!”

She also emphasized the importance of getting your screening colonoscopy, now recommended to begin at age 45 rather than 50, as more people are being diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer at a younger age. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GBMC paused these screenings at the new Kroh Center for Digestive Disorders at GBMC, but as of May 21st, they will resume with precautions to ensure patients’ safety. Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Ferraris and her partner and mentor Dr. Joseph DiRocco have continued to see patients both in the office as needed and via virtual video visits.

When asked why she chose to practice at GBMC, Dr. Ferraris said, “There are excellent resources here. Because it’s a community hospital, we can be more individualized in our delivery of care, but we offer the same state-of-the-art care and have the sophisticated skills you’d find at a large academic medical center. We also have a multidisciplinary cancer team and a great nursing staff. With all those things in one place, it seemed perfect to me.”
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