When selecting your career path in medical school, how did you come to decide on Internal Medicine?

As I progressed through my clinical rotations in medical school, I realized the work of an internist matched my pre-determined idea of what a doctor does. Internists are experts at diagnosis and managing complex situations and patients with multiple comorbidities, which are the aspects of medicine that I became most attracted to during my training. Internists are required to process a large amount of information that they gain from a patient’s history, physical exam, and laboratory data, which is a task I find both challenging and very rewarding. Internal medicine also offers such a broad range of clinical exposure. The opportunity to care for patients with common conditions such as pneumonia and COPD to more complex conditions gives the field a variety that is hard to match.

What drew you to Mayo Clinic for your residency training?

When I was searching for residency programs, one of the most important factors was to find a program where I felt I would receive great clinical training. As a world-renowned facility, I knew Mayo Clinic was a place where I would receive world-class training and be presented with numerous career opportunities and resources. Having grown up in Iowa City, IA, I also wanted to train close to home in the Midwest. Having satisfied these initial criteria, the interview process completely sold me. The facilities were great, and I could quickly see that the current residents were truly happy with where they were. It was very obvious that program administration and support staff truly cared about the well-being of the residents. In the end, I felt at home at Mayo Clinic and had a gut feeling that it was a place where I would be happy and have the opportunity to be successful.

What has had the greatest influence in shaping your career as an internist and future nephrologist?

The nephrologists I worked with in medical school definitely had a huge influence on my decision to pursue a career in internal medicine and nephrology. They were the best teachers I’ve ever had and always taught and cared for their patients with a passion and vigor that I hadn’t seen in any other specialty. For me, they were role models that I wanted to emulate in my own future practice-someone who cares about their patients and students and who is always searching for answers. In addition, the clinical work of nephrology is very rewarding for me. I have always enjoyed analytical exercise of evaluating a patient with acute kidney injury or an electrolyte abnormality as well as managing the complications of chronic kidney disease.

Is there anything that surprised you about Mayo Clinic?

One pleasant surprise was realizing how approachable everyone is. From the consultants, fellows, and senior residents to the nurses, support staff, and program administration, everyone has been more than willing to help when I ask for it, and they are often able to realize when I may need help before I’ve realized it myself. It’s this collaborative environment that makes Mayo Clinic special. There is a culture where asking for help is not only acceptable, but encouraged. This culture provides a balance where I have a healthy amount of autonomy as I care for patients, but also have innumerable resources at my fingertips when I find myself in a situation where I need assistance. Specifically, the approachability of the consultants has been a great surprise. Despite often being an expert in their field, the consultants I’ve worked with have been very non-intimidating, receptive of questions and, are all excellent teachers.

Is there anything that surprised you about Rochester?

Having grown up in rural Iowa and lived in a quintessential college town with an active downtown area for the past five years, I have been pleasantly surprised at the versatility of Rochester. I live on the north edge of town where it has a rural feel and feels like home, yet I am minutes from downtown where the restaurant and bar scene are excellent. There is a great variety of places to go enjoy a meal and drink after a long day at work. Events like Thursdays on First also give downtown an energy that makes it a very fun place to be.

What are your plans following residency/where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Currently, I have plans to pursue fellowship training in nephrology after residency and hope to work in academic medicine after that. I have always envisioned returning to Iowa to work in my home state close to family, although I am quickly realizing that Rochester and Mayo Clinic may be too good leave if I have an opportunity to stay!

Academics ▸ Residencies and Fellowships ▸ Internal Medicine Residency (Minnesota) ▸ Meet Our Trainees ▸ Mitchell Pitlick, M.D.