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Career Conferences: Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Mark Pinto ‘86

“If it’s straight, make it bent. If it’s bent, make it straight.” This is how Dr. Mark Pinto ‘86 describes his job as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in arthroscopic surgery within sports medicine and shoulder problems. His wife? Well, she says he’s a “high-paid carpenter”. 

Pinto spoke to students interested in medicine April 25 as part of CC’s Career Conferences series.

After graduating from Catholic Central, Dr. Pinto went onto Miami University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology/Animal Biology before continuing onto the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Pinto also holds an MBA from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He is the Medical Director of Supply Chain, Surgical Services, and Orthopedic Service Line/Ambulatory Surgery at Trinity Health IHA Medical Group, the second largest hospital system in the country, where he runs operating rooms across 22 states and 54 hospital,  manages supply chain, and oversees the orthopedic quality management of over 700 orthopedic surgeons. Additional accomplishments throughout his career include developing a patented suture modification currently used on multiple orthopedic implants and establishing a protocol to provide patients with video footage of their surgery to provide patients a more comprehensive understanding of their procedure. Dr. Pinto is also on the admissions board for the University of Michigan Medical School.

By the time he spoke with students at 8:30 AM, Dr. Pinto was already almost four hours into his morning and had held two meetings.

“If you’re not a morning person, you’re going to need to train yourself to be a morning person. It’s not all glory and guts, but on the other hand, our days start very early,” he said. “You have to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed when you’re waking patients up at 6:30 AM. They’re recovering, they’ve put their trust in you, and you have to greet them positively at the start of their day or there’s no way they can be positive. Mental attitude is critical.”

Dr. Pinto emphasized the importance of finding balance within personal and professional life, describing sacrifices needed on both ends.

“As a physician, there’s a commitment beyond your family, there’s a commitment to medicine and your patients. It rises above all things,” he said. “On the other hand, I received several job offers that could have really upped my career and finances, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have family. As much as you're committing to serving others, you have to realize that it takes a significant amount of effort to find balance. It takes work.”

Dr. Pinto walked students through a video of one of his arthroscopic surgeries in which he used his patented suture to fix a rotator cuff tear.

“This used to be a six month to one year recovery, but we’re now putting people back to their normal activities in about four months,” he said. “We have to operate and do what we used to do with big incisions in now very small spaces.”

Drawing from his expertise serving on the admissions board at Michigan Medical School, Dr. Pinto coached students on how to start preparing for medical school and credited Catholic Central for setting students up for success.

“The reason I was able to do well in medical school was because of the foundation I had here,” he said. “Some of it is being able to look people in the eye and shake their hand, to know how to present yourself and to give back. All of those things are going to culminate every time you try to get into the next thing–college, medical school, residency, fellowship. You’re being interviewed for all of those. How you present yourself and what you’ve done with your life, and what you plan to do with your life, and your ability to talk about that, is critical.”

Dr. Pinto discussed the importance of presenting oneself well, both in-person and online.

“We have folks that go out and find that funny picture in your past, and we go all the way back to high school,” he said. “We find it.”

Dr. Pinto pointed to grades, test scores, well-written essays, letters of recommendation, experience with healthcare, demonstrated commitment to others, and an understanding of social determinants of care as the building blocks to an impressive application.

“Experience with healthcare and your ability to serve others who may not be as privileged as yourself is what you need to show in tangible ways and be able to speak to,” he said. “In my interviews, I’m trying to get to know the candidates as a person: what drives them? Are they going into medicine for the right reason? Could I trust them? Can they look me in the eye and speak to their experiences with great confidence? If you don’t have that commitment to your fellow man and are just going down the checklist for what will look good on the application, I can usually tell in the interview,” he said.

Speaking on the responsibility that comes with working within medicine, Dr. Pinto stressed the importance of strong character development.

“In the world of medicine, everything stops at us. As soon as you have an interaction with a patient, you’re responsible to them, and you’re responsible to their family,” he said. You have to have humility, compassion, and focus on serving others to succeed as a doctor. You also have to be super self-aware. You cannot serve your fellow man if you’re not in a good place. You really have to have a commitment to this, and to yourself.”

Dr. Pinto pointed to a desire for continual learning, time management, and attention to detail as important skills for students to focus on.

“What I do now is nowhere near what I learned in my residency. You are constantly learning, going to meetings, learning new skills and diagnostic techniques to advance yourself,” he said. “In medicine, you have to have multiple priorities, because in each of your patients’ eyes, they’re your top priority.”

Dr. Pinto spoke to students on what makes a good leader within medicine and the role teamwork plays.

“I am constantly refining what I do. I may be the head of the team, but any one person can speak up and give advice,” he said. “I have privileges and a position in charge, but I have to have a great team who all trusts me and I trust them. If you’re doing the right thing, all of your team will continue to advance and go onto further leadership opportunities. If you’re a good mentor, all of your team will benefit from you, and you will benefit from them.”

Dr. Pinto is one of three in his family who attended Catholic Central, with his younger brothers Perry Pinto ‘88 and Dr. Jeffrey Pinto ‘89 following after him.

“You are very privileged that you’re here, and you have a great foundation,” Dr. Pinto said. “I appreciate that you’re taught to give back. As a physician, even much more so. Truly, much is expected. Everyday you get to serve your community.”

The Catholic Central Career Conference series brings alumni to campus to speak to sophomore and junior students interested in particular career paths. The alumni share valuable insights about their profession, their story, and recommendations to students seeking a career in a similar field. There are career conferences on medicine, business/entrepreneurship, finance, engineering, law/law enforcement, marketing, and journalism. If you are a student interested in attending a career conference, please contact your guidance counselor.

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