Dr. Aaron New, a urologist at Citizens Medical Center, has had a close personal and professional connection with Dr. Belur Patel since they met during New’s residency at Texas A&M in Temple.
Patel had assured New for nine years that he would one day come down and join New in Victoria to be closer to the shore. This year, the mentor took the plunge and joined his mentee at Citizens Medical Center.
“We discussed it immediately after I arrived at Citizens, and I assumed he was kidding,” New said.
New is one of the hospital’s few urology surgeons, and he said he wanted a second person to complement what he does and somebody he can trust in terms of judgement and opinion.
The hospital has looked for urology specialists to partner with New throughout the years, but none have ever been the ideal fit, according to New.
“Victoria has had difficulty finding another urologist,” he explained. “We’ve looked about, and people have interviewed, and I’ve always thought in my head, since Belur and I always spoke about how wonderful it would be for him to be there, how cool it would be for him to be there.” If I could choose anybody from my training, including the other residents I worked with, he would be my partner.”
It has become increasingly difficult to accommodate the community’s needs as Victoria has developed. New stated that he was sometimes three to four months behind on normal treatments, making it impossible to give the care patients need in a timely way.
“Victoria itself has a small population, but we cover such a large region that we encounter people as far away as Corpus and even further south,” he explained. “As a general rule, urology is a necessary area due to the ageing population, and there are just not enough of us swimming around.”
This does not include instances when New was forced to refer patients to Houston for surgery because the hospital lacked someone who could fill a gap in the surgical service he offers. This made things much more difficult for patients, who were forced to travel to other locations rather than stay close to home, according to New.
When Patel called New, he usually inquired when he would eventually relocate down to Victoria, but something was always in the way, Patel explained.
Being a mentor and mentee creates an inherent trust and familiarity that is difficult to recreate, according to Patel and New.
“It’s difficult to establish a strong collaboration, especially with this,” Patel remarked. “We interact a lot while covering patients, and you need someone who has the same work ethic as you.”
Aside from the work ethic, they must also have the same compassionate and caring approach toward patients, which Patel observed in New from the start of his residency.
“I trusted him even on stage,” he explained.
Patel’s decision to join Citizens has been a delight for New, who has reduced his backlog to six weeks.
“For it to all just sort of work out and for him to come and work with me as my instructor for some amount of time is just an awesome feeling,” he added.
Patel still finds himself acting like the instructor, striding in front of New on rounds and criticising New as if they were in residency, but New is quick to remind Patel playfully that it’s now a partnership.
“Like father and son, that’s always your son and that’s always your father, and the son will want to grow out of that, but the dad will always be over you saying you ‘need to do this,'” Patel explained, adding that he chuckles at himself when this happens. “That’s why we get along so well.”
When Patel completes his shift from Texas A&M Health Science Center at Baylor, Scott and White Health in Temple, the hospital expects to be able to do more urological procedures in-house, as New’s expertise in robotic surgery is supplemented by Patel’s sophisticated surgical experience, they added.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Patel to our urology programme. It’s not often that you get to work with a mentor you admire, but that’s precisely what Dr. New told me when we discussed bringing Dr. Patel to Citizens Medical Center,” Citizens CEO Mike Olson stated. “They’re both outstanding physicians with exceptional surgical talents, and we’re delighted to have them at our hospital and in our community.”
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