Featured Alum: Keith Criner, Natural Science 1999

The article below is from an e-mail to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald.

Dr. Fitz, Always good to hear from you. I have been getting the SOS newsletters which I enjoy reading. Its nice to see that CBU is thriving and that the SOS is doing well. The new building sounds nice. As for the Alumnus article, I would be happy to do whatever I can to help, and would be honored to be featured. I guess to update you on what’s going on in life, I will finish a combined 4 year Internal Medicine and Pediatric residency this June and then will start a combined 3 year Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship in July at UAMS. After that, I guess I will grow up and get a ‘real job’,probably doing just Critical Care Medicine in an ICU somewhere. Maybe academics, maybe private practice. Recently got married to Mary in October who is an Audiologist (ear hole specialist as i call it). Hobbies include fishing, traveling, flying (just a couple more hours and I will have my private pilot license). My interest in medicine started when I was at West Memphis High School, when I used to round on the weekends with Dr. John Huey, a Pulmonary doc in Memphis. CBU further fostered the desire to pursue medicine, though I had my doubts after a couple of exams with Drs. Ross and Wescott. While at CBU, I worked at Baptist Hospital Pharmacy as a Pharmacy Tech for 4 years, and later in Maternal Fetal Research at UTMem/The Med under Dr. Baha Sibia and Dr. Risa Ramsey. I think the employment and research activities helped keep me interested in medicine and provided some much needed money.

This was said in an earlier email,but I really didn’t realize how important your classes were at the time. We learned a lot of ‘stuff’ in college, but YOUR classes had actual real life ‘stuff’ that I still use today. Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about Beta Receptor blockers or agonists, Alpha Receptor agonist or antagonist, chronotrophic and inotrophic agents such as Norepi, Epi, Dopamine, Dobutamine, Phenyeph, and how all of those things work together. When the BP goes down, the HR and ejection fraction needs to go up as does the vascular resistance. Hence, I remember your explanation of how dopamine is broken down into other neurotransmitters and what neurotransmitters have alpha, beta 1 or beta 2 effects. I can then make a decision on what drug to use and know why i am doing it. How can sodium worsen congestive heart failure and increase blood pressure? One simply needs to look at renal physiology and the Angiotension system. It all seems very simple now, but at the time it was a lot to grasp. I can remember pulling out my Physio notes from your class in college (which i still have) and reviewing physiology after a med school lecture. Your notes were, to say the least, easier to follow and actually made sense. Its easy to develop pattern recognition, that is someone is hypertensive they need fluids and dopamine. However, it is paramount to know why you are doing something, so when the old stand bys don’t work one can figure out what to do next. I think med school throws so much ‘stuff’ at you, it is sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees, and hence difficult to recognize what is important. You teach important concepts in a relaxed environment that tend to stick with people long after the class is over.

Neuroscience, without a doubt, was my hardest class in med school. Had I not taken your Neuroscience class and had a basic understanding of neuroanatomy and physiology, my battleship may have been sunk. All ten million gyri/sulci with those pesky spinal tracts and cranial nerves may have been the death of me. However, I was ahead of the game and was able to keep my head above water. None of my friends in medical school had ever had a Neuroscience class. I found myself correcting someone the other day. She said that birds knew to migrate South because as it got cooler they knew it was time to go. Actually, as I learned it, they have an area similar to our SupraChiasmatic Nucleus (I think the Eddinger-Westphal) that recognizes the amount of daylight and hence as the days get shorter, there is less sunlight, and that is how they know to migrate. This can further explain some depressive disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, less light stimulation equals less happy neurotransmitters. Its also the reason watching TV late at night can cause insomnia. Anway, the point is, these are things I learned from you, not from med school. But they are important concepts that we need to know and that I use regularly.

I didn’t mean to get verbose, I was just sitting here on call in the intensive care nusery and got to rambling. Compared hour for hour, college is a much more efficient way to learn than med school. Would love to come see the new building sometime. Maybe next time I come to visit the parents.