Meet a Specialist: Gillian R. Diercks, M.D., MPH

DiercksGillArticleDr. Gillian Diercks, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) at Mass. Eye and Ear, always wanted to be a doctor. She studied neuroscience and behavior as an undergraduate and originally planned to become a neurosurgeon. Dr. Diercks’ interest in otolaryngology occurred later, during her second year of medical school at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. While attending Columbia, she was paired with an advisor, Dr. Joseph Haddad, a pediatric otolaryngologist whose happiness and passion for his work and the field of otolaryngology were contagious.

Dr. Diercks knew she wanted to follow in her mentor’s footsteps after completing her ear, nose and throat (ENT) rotations. She received a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship, which allowed her to spend an additional year of medical school training in Honduras, where she researched the genetics of cleft lip and cleft palate. While in Honduras, she assisted with reconstructive surgeries and participated in educational programs to train Honduran surgical residents, allowing for better continuity of care.

After completing a five-year residency in otolaryngology (ENT), a two year pediatric otolaryngology fellowship at Mass. Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School, and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Diercks returned to Mass. Eye and Ear as a pediatric otolaryngologist. She currently treats pediatric patients at the main campus at Mass. Eye and Ear, as well as patients at the Newton and Wellesley suburban offices. Her goal is to expand pediatric otolaryngology care and services at Mass. Eye and Ear, Newton and Mass. Eye and Ear, Wellesley. In addition to treating common pediatric otolaryngology conditions, such as sleep apnea and ear problems, Dr. Diercks is a specialist in the management of pediatric airway and voice disorders as well as neck masses.

Dr. Diercks noted that otolaryngologists have specific training needed to diagnose and treat many ear, nose and throat disorders that may be unfamiliar to general or primary care doctors. Often, patient care can be managed medically. However, if surgery is needed, as a specialist, Dr. Diercks is able to offer her patients continuity of care from diagnosis all the way through post-operative care. Her passion lies in providing excellent overall outcomes and in caring for her patients throughout this process. 

Dr. Diercks strives to improve patient outcomes through her clinical research as well. As a fellow at Mass. Eye and Ear, she was involved in several clinical studies from original conception to follow-up care. For example, she participated in a study which evaluated the safety and efficiency of the hypoglossal nerve stimulator (a new technology which stimulates nerves in the upper airway and causes the tongue to move forward and out of the airway during sleep) in adolescent patients with Down syndrome and severe obstructive sleep apnea. She helped construct the study, met with patients involved in the study, and saw the first subject of the study for his one year follow-up appointment. When discussing the successful outcome that the patient experienced, she happily said, “It’s amazing. This technology is truly changing lives.” 

When working with other physicians, she takes a multi-disciplinary approach and stresses the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Especially in pediatrics—where diagnoses typically involve various specialty areas, like pulmonary or GI—it’s important to work closely with and consult experts in other specialties. 

As a mother, Dr. Diercks understands firsthand how stressful medical appointments and procedures can be for families. She says, “I make every effort to provide the same level of care for my patients that I would expect for myself and my family.” She takes a patient-centered approach and believes that is very important to educate her patients and their families, as well as to take time to talk them through each step of an appointment or procedure. 

Contact Dr. Diercks' office at 617-630-1699 (Newton and Wellesley) or 617-573-3190 (Boston-Main Campus).

View Dr. Diercks' online bio for more information.

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