Mayo Clinic Alumni Association – Know Your Board – Kent Richter
Provides leadership | Makes policy decisions | Decides strategic direction and vision
Kent Richter (MED ’21)
Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine student representative
Medical school: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Scottsdale, Arizona
Undergraduate: Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Native of: Houston, Texas
When I was 10 years old, my then 13-year-old sister, Ann Marie, passed away from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm without warning. I was devastated. It was an event that changed my life and led to health becoming very important to me. I didn’t decide to pursue medicine until after I’d lived in Africa from ages 19 to 21. I was in Angola and witnessed stark physical suffering. That experience, combined with my sister’s death, made me want to help alleviate suffering.
I considered various specialties but always had a strong interest in neurosurgery and plan to pursue it for my career. Early on in medical school, I had the opportunity to perform research with the chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Bernard Bendok, M.D. (NS ’15). He has been a great inspiration to me.
Why Mayo Clinic
My family is from Texas, so for family and financial reasons, it would have made sense to stay in Texas. When I interviewed at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I had a great feeling. I loved it — the reputation, the patient care, the faculty. My wife and I deviated from our plan, but it’s been the absolute best decision.
I’m grateful to be at Mayo Clinic. It’s ideal — a great education at a world-class facility and rigorous curriculum that prepares you for whatever subspecialty you choose. It’s also family-friendly, with selective weeks between academic blocks. You can tailor your career from an early point in your training.
Sub-internships have been canceled due to COVID, so I’ve gone back and forth between Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Rochester, doing month-long neurosurgery rotations — working with residents in the OR and learning the nuts and bolts of being a neurosurgeon. I’ve been extremely fortunate in this regard and have absolutely loved it. I’ve worked on research projects with Dr. Bendok and some residents at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and initiated my own research related to high-value care in neurosurgery — health care reform and policy related to Medicare and methods of reimbursement.
I’d love to continue training at Mayo Clinic. I aim to become an academic neurosurgeon who contributes to healing patients, helping communities and adding to the overall body of knowledge. My sister died from something seemingly unexplainable, with no family history or predisposition. I’d like to help elucidate some of the unsolved mysteries of neurosurgery like that.
I spent two months with neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and two months with neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic in Arizona — world-class physicians who are at the top of their subspecialty. I saw them operate, interact with patients, and discuss difficult cases during conferences. It was an incredible privilege. I can’t imagine what it would be like to train in that atmosphere for seven years.
As the medical student representative on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, my role is to help connect students with alumni. I hadn’t previously realized how integral the Alumni Association is to Mayo Clinic overall and how it connects trainees all over the world.
My wife and I have three daughters, ages 5, 3 and 5 months, so our house is very busy. My wife is very supportive; she’s the reason I’m able to pursue this career. When I get home, we have dinner together and put the kids to bed. On days off, we like to go on walks, hikes and bike rides.
I love music and play piano, guitar, and violin. I love both to listen and compose. I’ve recorded a few songs in the past.
I also speak Portuguese. I lived in Angola, Africa, for a couple of years, and the native language there is Portuguese. Like learning any new language, it was very difficult. Learning Portuguese prepared me for being comfortable with treading in unfamiliar water with lots of unfamiliar words; it’s been huge in helping me to learn the language of medicine.