Gastroenterology Specialist Peter Heit Gets to the ‘Gut’ of the Problem
“I take an old-fashioned approach to clinical exams. We talk first in my office, and again afterward. It’s a more comfortable encounter and you learn so much more.”
From an early age, Peter Heit knew his future career. In fact, at his sixth-grade graduation, he wrote down that he was going to be a doctor. “Back then, there were not too many outlets for kids who liked the sciences,” he says. “It was research or medicine, and I knew that I wanted to take care of people.”
He received a full scholarship to attend Boston University and got accepted into medical school during his sophomore year. That allowed him to take graduate and undergraduate courses concurrently, and fit in some medical research. He ruled out the other specialties and chose gastroenterology/hepatology because the specialty featured interesting procedures and had the potential to build longstanding patient relationships.
The relationships are especially important to him. “Every visit starts with a conversation in my office,” he says. “I want to make it as comfortable as possible, to allay any concerns and to find out how I can help.” Then he examines the patient in the exam room. Finally, they meet back in the office to discuss the findings and put together a plan. “Sometimes, we focus on self-management; other times we recommend procedures or medication. Importantly, this is a plan that evolves over time as part of continuity of care.”
Preventive care, including colonoscopy screening, is a large part of his focus. “I help my patients get past the stigma and embarrassment of this test, and understand how powerful a colonoscopy is in helping them live longer, healthier lives.” In addition, Peter treats the full spectrum of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal pains, reflux, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and stress-related gastroenterological issues. “The enteric nervous system is second only to the brain in complexity,” he says, “and so there are quite a number of potential gastrointestinal issues.”
When he’s not working, he enjoys going to the theater with his wife. He also is a skilled clock maker and has made over 100 clocks.