Dr. Frank Kretzer is a legend at Baylor College of Medicine. The famously entertaining histology professor has touched thousands of lives and molded countless future physicians over the last 30-plus years. Recently, our Baylor College of Medicine family received the sad news that Dr. Kretzer would not be returning to teach next year because of health reasons.
A couple of weeks back, I was in Cancun, Mexico and we had gone ziplining in this tiny, secluded lagoon. I was drying off after an exhilarating 25-foot jump into the water when I started talking to a man and his wife who had come from Dallas. Turned out, he was an ophthalmologist who had attended Baylor in the 80s and Frank Kretzer had written a letter of recommendation for his residency. Right there, in the middle of all this excitement in Cancun, we shared a few “Kretzer stories.”
Although a simple blog post could never do justice to the man’s life, a few current students shared some memorable experiences with the man (although the true stories are being shared in a special book being made by past and current students for Dr. Kretzer’s eyes only, titled “Letters to Kretzer.”)
- I was a student who had a family emergency during my time at Baylor. We all remember getting our histology practicals back with “What happened?” scribbled on the top when we dipped even a few points in our grades. Frank pulled me aside and asked me what was going on, and I spilled my guts. He then made it his personal job to help me out and kept in touch with me through my time at Baylor.
- I was walking into the anatomy lab as an MS1. I had a fascination with Dr. Kretzer’s belts. One day, he was wearing a very colorful belt, so I decided to compliment him on it. “Hey Dr. Kretzer, that’s an awesome belt”. With the biggest smile on his face, he replied, “why thank you, it’s leopard!”
- I recently bumped into Dr. Kretzer during a wedding reception. Guess what gift he brought the happy newlyweds? “Awesomeness from NEIMAN MARCUS.”
- Dr. Gannon and Dr. Kretzer give their combined lab at the end of block 4.
Histology picture of kidney comes up on projector. Dr. Gannon: “So we see the glomerulus (points to it with laser pointer) and you can see the podocytes and the tubules (students are mostly thinking ‘ya I guess I kinda remember this stuff. It’s been so long though’) and…Have you guys learned this?” Turns to Dr. Kretzer and asks, “Frank, have they learned this stuff?” Dr. Kretzer exclaims, “Oh they’ve memorized it!” Dr. Kretzer always sets extraordinary expectations for his students, and sometimes when they’re not met, you feel like you not only let yourself down, but that you let him down. He always keeps us on our toes.
- One of my favorite Frank Kretzer memories occurred when I had the pleasure of meeting Frank’s daughter and oft-talked about grandson Max. Apparently Frank had trained his beloved grandson well. As many young children do, Max had learned to answer several simple questions about himself. Max’s mother wanted to display her son’s intelligence and showed us what he knew. “What is your name?” she asked; Max, beaming with pride, replied, “Max!”. “And how how old are you, Max?” she questioned further; Max, even more enthusiastically, exclaimed, “Two!” Then, with a smirk on her face, Max’s mother asked one final question, “What do you think of Junq?” “He’s s***!” said Max, proud of himself for answering correctly. (Note: Junquiera, better known as “Junq,” is a famous Histology textbook author that Dr. Kretzer often likes to joke about when a factoid or two is outdated or incorrect.)
These are just a few of the probably thousands and thousands of “Kretzer stories” out there. Whether you graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1980 or are graduating in two weeks, chances are you won’t look back on medical school without fondly remembering Frank Kretzer.