4th-year medical student inducted into prestigious Pisacano Foundation Leadership Program

By Jane Alvarez-Hernandez, contributor

Garrett S. Kneese, a fourth-year MD/MPH candidate at the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at TheUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), was recently selected as a 2021Pisacano Scholar. This prestigious award and lifelong leadership fellowship, presented by the Pisacano Leadership Foundation, is valued at up to $28,000 and is awarded to medical school students in the U.S. who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in service and leadership in the specialty of family medicine. Kneese was one of nine medical school students selected out of approximately 3,000 applicants from 140 medical schools nationwide by the American Board of Family Medicine.

A native Texan raised in both Pasadena and Fredericksburg, Kneese’s upbringing between urban and rural settings gave him a multidimensional perspective on life that blends an appreciation for both styles of living as well as yielding a broad sense of community experience.

Garrett S. Kneese, fourth-year medical student and recent inductee to the Pisacano Foundation Leadership Program.

In 2013, he began his academic career at The University of Texas at San Antonio, completing his undergraduate biology degree in three years via the UTSA-UT Health San Antonio’s Facilitated Acceptance to Medical Education program for BS/MD students, part of the UT System’s Transformation in Medical Education Initiative. As a Terry Foundation Scholar there, he was mentored by Ann Eisenberg, PhD, and urged to study health care systems abroad, which resulted in his identifying growth areas here in the U.S.

Upon arriving to medical school at UT Health San Antonio, Kneese began varying his medical training through opportunities with the institution’s Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics under Ruth Berggren, MD, FACP, the center’s director and professor of medicine, and Jason Rosenfeld, DrPH, MPH, assistant director of global health and assistant professor/research, as well as the UT School of Public Health under Melissa Valerio, PhD, MPH, associate professor of health promotion and behavioral science, and Barbara S. Taylor, MD, MS, associate professor and assistant dean for the MD/MPH program.

He pursued additional opportunities with the School of Medicine’s Office for Undergraduate Medical Education, mentored by Jeff Jackson, EdD, director of curriculum evaluation, and Robert Esterl Jr., MD, associate dean for undergraduate medical education.

Kneese has also been mentored for his future role as a family physician under the guidance of Robert Ferrer, MD, MPH, FAAFP, professor and vice chair for research in the Family Medicine Residency Program, Nehman M. Andry, MD, associate professor/clinical and director of Medical Student Education, and Carolina Gonzalez Schlenker, MD, CHW, assistant professor/clinical in the Family Medicine Residency Program.

These departmental involvements were the backbone of Kneese’s support system and mentorship he received during his pre-clinical years, with dozens more who supported these departments and their student-centered approaches to be recognized.

“Joining the specialty as a Pisacano Scholar is so much more than a monetary award or accolade of accomplishments,” Kneese said. “It is a pathway to camaraderie, teamwork and synergistic efforts with the incredible servant leaders that the specialty has gathered for our communities locally and nationally.”

With his mentor’s guidance, Kneese developed UT Health San Antonio’s ScribeMD, a narrative medicine pen-pal program, and spent two years as a public health practitioner. First in Ecuador between his second and third years of medical school, where he served 13 months in-country as a program director with the Ministries of Public Health & Education as well as serving as a consultant for the Cacha Medical Spanish Institute and leading an adolescent sexual health education program for the local public school system. This led to another opportunity between his third and fourth years at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as a program manager and humanities fellow for the institution’s Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, coordinating the Community Health Clubs network in Brownsville, Texas, along the Texas-Mexico border for nine months.

Student doctor Kneese would like to join his mentor, co-sponsor for the Pisacano Foundation scholarship application, Carlos Roberto Jaen, MD, PhD, MS, FAAFP, professor and chair of the Dr. & Mrs. James L. Holly Distinguished Chair, in inviting you to participate in celebrating National Primary Care Week.


Celebrate Primary Care Week 2021

Join us in celebrating primary care’s invaluable role within our health care system with a series of events for Primary Care Week 2021, Oct. 5-7, featuring Alexander Krist, MD, MPH, Bellue-Holly Distinguished Visiting Professor of Virginia Commonwealth University Family Medicine Residency Program at Fairfax Family Medicine Center. All events are FREE and open to everyone. For questions, please contact Regina Martinez at martinezr28@uthscsa.edu. Click here for more information.

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