Former Triathlete Turned Doctor

December 20, 2014

The UA Department of Emergency Medicine’s first informatics fellow Brent Lorenzen, MD, spent nearly 25 years as a competitor and coach. As a swimmer, he was a junior national finalist in high school and an All-Ivy first-team selection at Harvard University. He and his fellow Harvard swim team members were Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League champions for three years.

He coached swimming at the University of California, Berkeley, and for the Novaquatics Swim Team, an Irvine, California-based subdivision of USA Swimming, where he trained multiple USA Swimming National Team members, including a world championship silver medalist. He received the American Swimming Coaches Association Award of Excellence.

Dr. Lorenzen also was a professional triathlete, finishing in the top 10 at 2004 and 2005 ironman competitions. He was named a triathlon All-American by both Inside Triathlon magazine and USA Triathlon.

Dr. Lorenzen said his experience with sports medicine during his time as an athlete steered him toward medical school and the field of emergency medicine.

“Being a competitive athlete teaches and reinforces a variety of skills that help in medicine,” he said. “These include the ability to set goals, prioritize, work through fatigue and focus on the immediate task at hand. You learn to overcome obstacles and know that failures are inevitable. You learn from them and move on.”

Dr. Lorenzen received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Harvard University and his master’s degree in human biodynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his medical degree at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and completed residency training in emergency medicine at Carolinas Medical Center.

While at Vanderbilt, Dr. Lorenzen became exposed to electronic medical records and informatics. “Vanderbilt was an early adopter of electronic health records. Also, during my third year in residency, Carolinas Medical Center was instituting their electronic medical records. I used informatics for my research project on resident stress and recognized that it was a great tool to combine data and statistical analysis for evidence-based medicine.”

Following his residency training, Dr. Lorenzen was in private practice, previously working as an emergency medicine physician in Tucson at Carondelet’s St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Hospitals, and at Tucson Medical Center, and in Phoenix at Banner Good Samaritan and Estrella Medical Centers.

When the opportunity to participate in the new two-year Clinical Informatics Fellowship at the UA, one of only a few in the country, became available, Dr. Lorenzen felt it was a great fit for him and a chance to transition into academic medicine and medical research.

“It was clear that informatics could improve the efficiency and quality of care,” he said. “It is important that physicians coming from the clinical realm use data appropriately. The use of this data could answer questions about how we can do better.”