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

Senior year is a time for decisions and planning for the future. And any opportunity that helps with those plans should be seized. Herb Klopfenstein, a senior at St. Mary’s High School, had just such an opportunity in February when spent the day shadowing Dr. Ozzie Grenardo, a member of St. Mary’s Class of 1991.

Klopfenstein has known for a couple of years that he wants to be a physician. But once that decision is made, there are still many more to come. And it’s these future decisions that Klopfenstein hopes the shadowing experience helps with.


“It was a great experience,” Klopfenstein said, “and it very well could have a great impact on my decisions. It hasn’t at this junction, but I can see it being a part of decisions to come.”


The experience was the idea of Matt Walter, director of development for St. Mary’s. Walter sees the benefits of connecting St. Mary’s students with alumni, especially in a professional context.


“My hope is that students come away from a shadow experience with a better understanding of the ‘real world’ and a clearer vision of what their personal and professional goals might be for college and beyond,” Walter said.


Klopfenstein’s day with Dr. Grenardo included observing clinics in Rocky Ford and Ordway. Privacy laws kept Klopfenstein from observing all of the exams that day, but he was able to see a couple of patients with strep throat and observe a baby’s four-month check up. When he wasn’t with patients Klopfenstein reviewed medical journals and was shown around the facilities by the nursing staff.


While the day was, of course, valuable for Klopfenstein, Dr. Grenardo found it a rewarding experience as well.


“I had a great time working with Herb,” he said. “His enthusiasm and intelligence made it easy to teach him during the day. It was incredibly gratifying to see medicine through his eyes, someone who is eager to learn the science of the body and serve others. It was a great reminder of why I became a physician.”


Once he returned home, Klopfenstein was asked to put together a checklist for students who may shadow Dr. Grenardo in the future. The list will provide support for the students and help ensure that they are getting the all they can from the experience.


Klopfenstein said his advice to other students would be to pay attention and ask questions.


“Pay attention to everything,” Klopfenstein advised, “because the doctor provides great information. And ask questions because you’ll be able to delve deeper. I learned ton. It was pretty cool.”

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