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Mary Jo Lechowicz, MD

Mary Jo Lechowicz, MDName:

Mary Jo Lechowicz, MD

Email:

mlechow@emory.edu

Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:

Hofstra University - BA Biology, minor in Philosophy and Chemistry

Medical School:

State University of New York at Syracuse

In practice since:

2003

Your Specialty:

Medical Oncology

How did you choose your specialty?

When I was an intern I thought there was "no way" I would do oncology as a lifetime career, before I started residency.   Yet when I started residency, both inpatient and outpatient oncology seemed to be one of only a few areas, where the whole patient and their entire being was encompassed in their care, not just one system or aspect of care. Probably the most important influences were a number of random occurrences with patients and mentorship with key faculty that allowed for my decision.  I was between infectious disease and medical oncology.  My late mentor spent time with me going through what aspects of patient care and clinical exploration excited me.  The answer was the oncologic side of viral malignancies.  Additionally, upon reflection, I knew I was always drawn to care for the very sick and complicated patients.  Oncology as a field had significant room for scientific growth.  Some of the best advice I had as a resident was to take my elective and find out what clinic question or questions I wanted to answer for the rest of my life.  This helped me think more deeply about what kind of physician I wanted to be, the type of clinical practice I wanted, and the research questions I wanted to ask.  I then was able to look for a fellowship and mentor that could fit with what my career goals were at that time.

What do you like MOST, and like LEAST, about your specialty?

Most Rewarding:

  • When we have reached the end of what medicine can do, and for all of us, the time of our life to come to an end, the best I think we can do is allow the space for people to take inventory of their lives, do the things they want and need to do, and be able to aid in preparation for them and their loved ones, through communication, the phase of dying.
  • To allow individuals the respect of their own destiny
  • Individual and long term care with patients.
  • Multidisciplinary approach ……REALLY! Need every specialty……
  • Physician Patient relationship and time to do it is still vital and valued 

Most Challenging:

  • The culture of death in the US and its effects on patient and family decisions. 
  • The fine balance of Hope and preparation for future
  • The time allowed in clinical medicine and how long it really takes to do this well

In your opinion, what attributes are important in anyone choosing this specialty?

This sub-specialty allows for a wide variety of personalities.  If one wants to see patients and personally be able to do it for the long term, one needs to be a good listener, have the strength to know your job is often to give news people do not want to hear and will change the patient’s and their "villages" lives forever.   Remember that for each patient this is the first time for them and maybe one of the worst things that has ever happened to them, and still have hope for the next tomorrow.

Hobbies/special interests:

  • Shopping/consigning…can be a contact sport!
  • Cheerleader for my husband’s marathon running, son’s soccer, flag football, and karate pursuits, and my daughter’s gymnastics.
  • Fishing: Reel and Fly
  • Ballet: 10 years of practice then  30 of watching
  • Musicals
  • Tennis and swimming
  • Taught myself knitting and crocheting in the last year…now making blankets (square and star shaped), cowls, butterflies, hats, scarves, flowers, four leaf clovers etc.
  • Very active in my church, Immaculate Heart of Mary…pastoral council, bi-weekly discussions about teaching of Pope Francis, different ministries
  • Spirituality and Social Justice
  • Collecting  "beach bling" with my kids
  • Netflix binge watching