Thomas P. Pittelkow, D.O.
What attracted you to palliative medicine?
Early in my training years, I recognized how valuable and important physical function, pain control, and a sense of self was to patients and their families. This important focus on what the patient cared about drove me to pursue my training in physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain medicine, and palliative medicine.
Our lives can change in a moment, and I enjoy helping people prepare for what lies ahead to ensure that they are able to achieve their best, control those symptoms that are troublesome, and live a life that aligns with their goals and values.
It is the people we see and the individual resilience in the face of great adversity that inspires me and makes palliative medicine so wonderful.
What attracted you to Mayo Clinic for fellowship training?
The clinical, research and educational training at Mayo Clinic is simply outstanding. Traditional programs tend to offer the basics when it comes to fellowship training, but at Mayo you are exposed to a wide variety of pathologies and learn firsthand from the leading international experts across multiple disciplines.
My interest in the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship at Mayo Clinic was sparked by the unique, yet simple, principle that serves as the foundation for all learning at Mayo: "The needs of the patient come first."
What makes the Mayo Clinic Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship unique?
The Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship is well-suited for someone who is driven, interested, and motivated to be a self-learner and accepts responsibility.
Early exposure in a well-supported environment is what sets Mayo Clinic apart from other programs. There is a sense of trust and expectation that as a fellow you will be ready to serve your patients to the highest degree, all the while being supported by outstanding faculty members who have your clinician development at their core.
Did anything surprise you about Mayo's program?
Because I had grown up in Rochester, there were very few surprises about Mayo Clinic. What I most respect and value is that Mayo Clinic's fellowship programs are willing to ensure that as a fellow you have the most comprehensive and thorough training to meet your educational and professional goals.
This includes very unique opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and experience different settings outside of Rochester, which makes for valuable learning and opportunities for growth.
What is living in Rochester, Minnesota, like for you?
I am a bit biased, as I am a true Rochester native, born and raised. So, I have seen all the good changes Rochester has gone through over the past 35-plus years.
For me, Rochester is a wonderful atmosphere that is extremely family friendly, safe and easy to maneuver. No matter where you live in Rochester, it takes about 10 minutes to get to work. The arts and cultural scene is ever growing, as is the restaurant industry. There is a boom right now of new hip and trendy restaurants and local microbrew pubs that are just awesome!
When we want to escape, we often travel to the Twin Cities for cultural and sporting events. For those looking to travel outside of Minnesota, Rochester boasts one of the easiest and most convenient airports around.
What does your future look like right now?
Thanks to my amazing training experience at Mayo Clinic, my future is very bright! My interests in advanced interventions for end-of-life care and aggressive symptom management in patients with life-limiting illnesses have afforded me great opportunities.
I have been invited to join the staff at Mayo Clinic after completing my palliative medicine fellowship training.