Mary Jo Lechowicz, MD
Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:
Hofstra University - BA Biology, minor in Philosophy and Chemistry
State University of New York at Syracuse
In practice since:
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?
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.