April 5, 2016 – When Rhodes Kriete, M.D. ’88, applied to the junior honors program at the University of Florida College of Medicine, he was hoping to gain experience from the admissions interview that might help him apply for medical school. To his surprise, he was accepted into the program his sophomore year. Kriete’s plans were again redirected when he started his third-year rotations. With every intention of becoming a pediatrician, he noticed that each time he walked into the room with a stethoscope, children would cry.
“I was suddenly without a specialty, but luckily became friends with a nephrology fellow who sparked my interest in renal disease and hypertension,” Kriete said. “After spending three winters at the University of North Carolina for my residency, I was ready to return to the Florida sunshine.”
Helping Kriete decide to pursue a nephrology fellowship at UF the College of Medicine was the opportunity to work with Craig Tisher, M.D., then chief of the division of nephrology.
“In medical school, I remember being partly awed, and partly terrified by Dr. Tisher,” Kriete recalled. “I knew that I would never want to disappoint him, and that would only serve to make me a better physician.”
After two years of fellowship, he moved to Melbourne, Florida, to join the staff at Health First Medical Group, where he has worked as a nephrologist for the past 23 years. In addition to private practice, he works out of Holmes Regional Medical Center and Kindred Hospital North Florida. He also serves as director of the Palm Bay Kidney Center.
Staying in Florida has provided Kriete the opportunity to give back to his alma mater. In 2015, he was elected to serve a four-year term on the UF Medical Alumni Board of Directors — a role in which he focuses on engaging alumni, improving the school and helping current medical students.
“Medical Alumni Affairs helped rekindle my passion for the school, and I think there’s a real opportunity to get more alumni involved — whether that’s passing on wisdom to students or supporting the school financially,” he said.
Kriete and his wife, Jennifer, have hosted a Supper Club for first- and second-year medical students, taking the students to dinner to provide support and encouragement before the next semester.
“You forget how exciting it is for them, and you want to impart wisdom,” Kriete said. “And with all the changes happening at the school, there’s a renewed sense of energy. We’re the flagship university, with the best medical school and the best teaching hospital — now we have a 21st century facility to match.”