Medical Mentor Program Provides Pirate Alums Chance to Work Together

To Dr. Ozzie Grenardo, St. Mary’s High School class of 1991, being a Catholic means being a servant. His experience at St. Mary’s solidified that belief. Now that he is a doctor in private practice he is able to live out that conviction daily.

 

“Being Catholic means being a servant and in medicine we serve,” Grenardo said.

 

This year that service includes mentoring another St. Mary’s alum as a preceptor at CU Medical School in Denver. But when second-year medical student Lindsay Heuser, SMHS class of 2005, began working with Grenardo neither knew of their common bond.

 

Heuser said that beginning in the fall semester of the first year of medical school at CU, students are required to participate in the preceptor mentoring program. The students are assigned a physician who will act as a mentor over the next couple of years. Originally that preceptor wasn’t Grenardo.

 

When her original preceptor decided to practice international medicine outside the U.S., Heuser had to find a new preceptor. Choosing from a list of physicians in the community who might be willing participate, Heuser contacted one physician who said no. Next on the list was Grenardo.

 

“I’m really glad the first doctor I asked said no,” Heuser said. “It was such a great surprise to discover that Ozzie was also an SMHS alum. Ozzie is a really easy person to get along with in general, but when I discovered that he was alum of my high school, I felt like there was instantly another layer of connection between us. How many other student-doctor duos can say that they’re both Pirates? I imagine not too many. It made me feel at ease to know that he understood where I was coming from and what my values were.”

Heuser works with Grenardo at his clinic for a half day each week. Working in the clinic gives Grenardo an opportunity to help Heuser developing communication and physical exam skills through hands on experience.

 

“My afternoons spent at preceptorship are far and away my favorite part of the week. It is such a refreshing change to get my nose out of the books and interact with real patients,” Heuser said. “Ozzie has been a great teacher as well. I really couldn’t ask for a more encouraging and supportive preceptor, and I’m glad to be in the company of a physician who really listens to and values patient priorities as highly as Ozzie does.”

 

Grenardo too enjoys working with Heuser and having a fellow Pirate around the office.

 

“It is nice to have someone in the clinic who shares common values. And someone who has shared a common path through both SM and now CU med school,” Grenardo said. “Lindsay is a great asset and is learning a lot about medicine and how I practice. She is progressing well and can now see patients on her own with me coming in to follow-up.”

 

It’s just a fact that the St. Mary’s family helps one another. Grenardo himself benefitted from St. Mary’s connections as he was getting his start in the working world. His first job in medicine—in transporting patients at Penrose—was obtained through the recommendation of a St. Mary’s alum.

“That was my introduction to medicine and I loved it,” Grenardo said.

 

Heuser feels that her time at St. Mary’s laid the foundation that has allowed her thrive in college and medical student.

 

“I have very fond memories of SMHS teachers who challenged me and pushed me to go one step further in everything I do,” Heuser said. “I attribute much of my growth as a student and person to my education at SMHS.”

 

As current St. Mary’s students look toward the future, and some consider careers in medicine, Grenardo recommends they get involved with something they are passionate about.

“Look for opportunities to get in there,” Grenardo said. “And then get as much experience as you can when opportunities come your way.”

 

By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School

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