Thomas Pitman was born in Kentucky, and at the age of 10, his family moved to Tennessee. While he went to medical school at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and did his residency at the University of Louisville, he has always been an Alabama football fan. Therefore, he knew he had to practice in the area, and has done so since 1994. Since that time, he has delivered over 5,000 babies, and at present he averages about 10 babies per month. So, that takes care of the “OB” part of the letters after his name, and he never gets tired of bringing little ones into the world. He is a Board Certified OBGYN, practicing at Valley Women’s Center, which is located on Hwy 72, just east of the Athens Publix Shopping Center.
The “F.A.C.O.G.,” of course, refers to all things pertaining to medicine that are unique to women only, and stands for Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This is an OB/GYN that has taken extra training and is a member of a national society that is focused on the improvement of women’s health care. But, what in the world does “FPMRS” stand for? The answer is “Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery”, and it is one tough, rare, certification to have. There are only 4 FPMRS doctors north of Birmingham, and Dr. Pitman told me it was the hardest test he had ever taken in his entire life. “I studied for it for 6 months,” he said, and he received his certification this past September.
As a young doctor, his focus was understandably on delivering babies, but as his patients aged, their health care needs changed. In 2006, he was approached by an older urologist who told Dr. Pitman, “Look, I am not always going to be around, and I want someone to be able to practice this type of medicine after I am gone.” Dr. Pitman responded to the challenge, got the experience, and said that he is now treating patients who need female pelvic reconstructive surgery whose babies he delivered 20 years ago. (Note: the FPMRS certification was not in existence in 2006. That is a much more recent development.)
“Nearly 1 in 2 women by the age of 65 will have some kind of prolapse in their reproductive system or their bladder,” he told me, and added, “While it is not life threatening, it is a huge quality of life issue.” He laughed as he told me about an email he received recently from a patient who had undergone the surgery, because she had told him, “For the first time, my socks are dry! I don’t have to wear diapers, and I can get down on the floor and play with my grandkids without worrying.”
“There are no words to describe how rewarding it is to be able to greatly improve someone’s quality of life,” he said. He added, “No one should live with these problems when there’s a 90% success rate, and less than a 10% chance of recurrence.” Dr. Pitman doesn’t just perform the surgeries. As an associate of American Medical Systems, (now known as Astora Women’s Health), he has traveled to Memphis, Little Rock, Birmingham and Florida to teach other physicians how to do them as well.
Several people wanted him to have his practice in Birmingham, but he is passionate about his work in Athens, and doesn’t want to be anywhere else. Felicia Lambert, who works in Marketing and Foundation for Athens-Limestone Hospital, and who was also present for the interview had this to say about Dr. Pitman: “This is his community. I have been here for 18 years, and because some of my job for Athens-Limestone Hospital is physician recruiting, I can say that this is the type of doctor I would want, and I may just need his services someday.” In other words, he’s the real deal.
He is also transparent about his faith, which he will plainly tell you wasn’t always fervent, but now is. “I pray with my patients,” he said without apology. “I know the Great Physician, I love my patients, and I love the Lord.” He also is very careful to give God glory for all that has happened in his life, and the blessings he has received on a number of fronts. We spent time exchanging stories of being on the foreign mission field, and how it changes you from the inside out. He can’t wait to go back to Africa.
On a practical note, when I asked him why I should choose him if I needed female pelvic reconstructive surgery, he said, “Experience.” He then added, “Since 2006, I have put in over 4,000 pelvic slings for prolapse and incontinence.”
Lastly, on a personal note, he finished up our time together with the following statement: “I have a passion for improving the lives of my patients. Nothing is more rewarding, and I give the glory to God.” If this is the kind of physician for whom you have been looking, then Dr. Thomas Pitman and the staff of Valley Women’s Center is waiting to serve you at 22335 US Hwy 72, Athens, AL, 35613.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner