Mentorship Matters: The Impact of a Private Practice Urologist
By: Mallory E. McCormick, DO, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois | Posted on: 19 Sep 2023
My path to urology was not the straightest, but hard work, perseverance, and the support and guidance of many urologists that got me where I am today. One of my most pivotal mentors was a private practice urologist who I had previously scribed for, Dr E. Bradley Pewitt. While I also had academic urology mentors, there was something special about what Dr Pewitt provided for me as I went from a medical student to urology applicant to urology resident.
He eagerly took me under his wing as a medical student and allowed me to learn how to run his busy urology clinic alongside him. When the opportunity arose to teach me surgery, he willingly filled out paperwork to be a preceptor at my medical school so I could learn from him in the operating room. In that setting, he steadily increased my autonomy so I could stand out and be well prepared for my urology away rotations. As a student who lacked a home urology program, he never hesitated to give me the best that he could offer so I could achieve my goal of being a urologist, even if it meant extra work for him. He was so deeply invested in my success that when I needed advice, he never shied away from assisting. When I went unmatched, he was the first person I turned to when I was weighing my next steps forward. So, when my medical school allowed us to choose a doctor to hood us on our graduation, there was no one was more deserving than Dr Pewitt to be there with me in my last moments as a medical student and my first as a doctor (Figures 1 and 2). This past year when I was a general surgery preliminary resident, Dr Pewitt was always accessible, often checking in to see how I was doing in the mix of learning to be a surgeon and reapplying urology. It was refreshing to experience his excitement with every step of the journey, whether it was interviews or rank-order lists. Being able to tell him that I matched urology this year and seeing his reaction of how much my match meant to him will forever be a highlight of that day.
I have encountered medical students in a similar position to myself of not having a home urology program. I do not want to take away that I benefitted from having academic urology mentors who understood the specifics of the urology match and application process. But I also want to highlight that Dr Pewitt provided me with a foundation of urological knowledge, an opportunity to improve my clinical and operative skills, and unrelenting support. He even gave me the encouragement I needed to reach out to other academic urologists, many of these becoming the additional mentors I needed.
Great mentors can be anyone invested in the success of their mentees. It is important to recognize what each mentor can and is willing to provide. However, for those lacking a home program, it is likely that their only exposure to urologists may be those in private practice. They should be encouraged to see these urologists as potential mentors and advocates. For me, so much of my success in urology can be accredited to Dr Pewitt and how he set me up to have a solid foundation to start training as a future urologist. With the excitement of my future career ahead of me, I know from his example that regardless of the path I choose, whether academics or private practice, I can positively impact future urologists in the field.
Dr Pewitt, thank you for providing me a unique opportunity, for going above and beyond to give me a chance, and for believing in me. I hope I can always make you proud and carry on the legacy of all you have taught me. My success is your success.