Today marks the third anniversary of Dr. Frank Kretzer’s passing, and although I had the privilege of his lectures, teachings, and mentorship throughout medical school, I sincerely miss his humor, enthusiasm, intelligence, kindheartedness, and pursuit of excellence.
I’m often asked about my idiosyncrasies. Why do I refuse to use the “doctor” title? Why do I refuse to wear the white coat? What drives my work ethic? And my bedside manner? And love of patient care? As one of our basic science professors (he had already been in the department 30+ years), Dr. Kretzer single handedly had a profound impact very early in my training. He advocated for respect going to the patients, the nurses, other disciplines involved in care, ancillary staff, etc. The physician’s role was that of a teacher. To teach each other. To teach our patients. And above all, to leave our ego at the door while we, in our vulnerability, marvel at the wonder that is the human body. That helpless feeling of awe continues to drive my love of teaching. If I can help even one person a day experience that same degree of amazement about something in medicine, my day is complete. 🙂
Dr. Kretzer’s last class of medical students put together this wonderful interview!
As a professor, Dr. Kretzer was the quintessential example of the educator I want to emulate. His lectures were well rehearsed performances driven by an unparalleled degree of devotion, finesse, and care. In addition to his outstanding lectures, he always went out of his way to supplement our education with valuable mock practicals, empowered students to reflect on our training milestones, and was always available to discuss both public and private matters. I distinctly remember receiving a phone call during winter break as an MS1:
“Rishi, it’s Frank! Great job on your histology practical!” A short conversation ensued, and his parting sentiment: “Focus on resting this break, but always use each day to come closer to knowing what God and man is.” This was a quote from “Flower in the Crannied Wall”, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, a quote Dr. Kretzer used frequently throughout his lecture series.
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
I can only hope that he understood the impact he had on generations of physicians. Thank you, Dr. Kretzer, for everything you did as an educator, as a mentor, and as a friend. Your legacy will continue to steer your students to forever pursue our understanding for “what God and man is.” 🙂