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Fellow Focus in Four: Mary Thomas, MD, MPH, Geriatrics

September 25, 2023

Why did you choose medicine?

My grandma, who I was very close with, was a cancer survivor. Her experience with cancer triggered my interest in pursuing medicine. I wanted to learn more about the treatments that saved her life and gave me more time with her. I was (and will always be!) grateful for the continued memories we were able to make. As she aged, I developed an understanding of how our healthcare and psychosocial needs and goals change as we age, creating an inherent overlap between palliative medicine and geriatrics.

Ultimately, my grandmother died after pursuing hospice care. Understanding that my grandmother’s death was peaceful, dignified, and on her own terms comforted me and helped me process her death. I want to help provide that same sense of comfort to patients and their loved ones. To improve my skillset in providing holistic, patient-centered care for adults across the entire age range with an emphasis on geriatric needs and end-of-life care, I pursued a combined fellowship in geriatrics and hospice and palliative medicine.

Why did you choose Yale Department of Internal Medicine for your fellowship?

Yale is one of the few combined geriatrics and palliative medicine programs in the nation, and I wanted exposure to both specialties throughout both years. Furthermore, the program provides formal leadership training, which is unique. I was also excited by the unparalleled learning opportunities and how well they aligned with my professional interests. For example, fellows can apply to complete an additional year of training in medical education.

I also have a strong interest in hospice care, and Yale provides exposure to a wide variety of hospice models, which will be helpful when determining the setting I want to work in when independently practicing.

What is your five-year goal? 10-year? Overall career goal?

In five years, I plan to be independently practicing a combination of primary care and hospice and palliative care in an underserved area within a large academic center. In 10 years, I plan to remain mostly clinical but also have more research and teaching time in medicine and public health. My overall goal is to make an impact on the care that underserved and vulnerable populations receive and make research more inclusive of historically marginalized populations.

What is a fun fact about you?

I once went ziplining upside down over the Mindo Cloud Forest, in Ecuador.

The Department of Internal Medicine’s Section of Geriatrics strives to improve the health of older adults by providing exceptional patient care, training future leaders and innovators in aging, and engaging in cutting-edge research. To learn more about their mission, visit Geriatrics.

Submitted by Serena Crawford on September 22, 2023