Inside job: CU student learns internal medicine at Valley View, GMA | PostIndependent.com
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Inside job: CU student learns internal medicine at Valley View, GMA

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” DawnRenee Cinocco’s dream is to operate a nursing home and a day care center ” together.

This 40-year-old third-year medical student has already completed what’s called a “clerkship” in caring for the young, taking month-long stints to work alongside doctors specializing in obstetrics and pediatrics.

Now, Cinocco is in Glenwood Springs for the month of February to concentrate on older patients.



Her internal medicine stint has put her in contact with patients in acute and intensive care at Valley View, and at the GMA clinic with various ailments, including chest pain, possible heart attack, emphysema, unexplained abdominal pain and alcohol withdrawal.

Through a partnership with the University of Colorado Medical Sciences Center, she’s working directly with internal medicine physicians at Glenwood Medical Associates, both at the clinic and at Valley View Hospital.



All CU medical students spend their third year traveling to different hospitals and medical facilities, concentrating on seven subject areas: obstetrics, pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology.

“We’re encouraged to try rural areas and places outside Denver for different specialties,” she said.

Jeanne Golay, spokeswoman for Glenwood Medical Associates, said the program places medical students in places like Glenwood Springs to get a feel for small-town medicine.

“It can be quite different from the experience they get on the Front Range,” Golay said.

Cinocco said Glenwood is an ideal place for her internal medicine clerkship. She said the physicians she is working with here are making her clerkship especially meaningful.

“They’re all wonderful teachers,” Cinocco said.

They include internists Dr. Steven O’Brien, Dr. Martha Oppegard, Dr. Alan Saliman and cardiologist Dr. Carlos Albrecht.

“Dr. Albrecht wants me to specialize in cardiology,” Cinocco said with a laugh. “He’s an excellent teacher.”

Golay said all patients Cinocco and other medical students like her see are informed first and must give their consent to participate in the program.

Cinocco has been splitting her time between the GMA clinic and Valley View, seeing patients on her own and with physicians.

“I’ll be at the hospital by about 6:30 a.m., where I’ll look up all the labs on our patients,” she explained. Cinocco will check lab reports on how patients fared during the night, performing physical exams and “checking on vitals.”

Following those rounds, Cinocco meets with the physician she is shadowing. Together, they’ll discuss treatment options.

At the clinic, Cinocco sees patients with the doctor, or sometimes by herself, getting medical histories.

“I’ll present patients to the doctor, and they determine if I’m on the right path,” she said. “Together, we come up with a good plan. Of course, the physicians guide me, and ultimately make the decisions on care.”

Cinocco said this kind of one-on-one contact with both patients and physicians is invaluable ” and something CU’s medical school values.

“In our very first year, we start working with a doctor who acts as a mentor,” she said. “It gives us great hands-on experience right from the start.”

Cinocco has come into medicine after two undergraduate degrees in German and Russian languages, and a career in the Army in the Gulf War, where she used her Russian language skills in a psychological operatives unit.

But after the Littleton, Colo.-native fell in a rappelling accident and injured her back during an Army training session, her life began taking a different turn. She said her injury motivated her to develop an interest in medicine ” and its humane practice.

After her accident, Cinocco spent four years caring for her German grandmother, who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She credits that experience for inspiring her to pursue her interest in medicine ” and its humane practice.

“I discovered I enjoyed nursing homes, and I enjoyed studying dementia,” Cinocco said.

Cinocco is leaning towards specializing in geriatrics but hasn’t made a final decision yet.

In the meantime, her dream of a combination nursing home and day care center keeps her inspired.

“I’ve had about seven patients in Glenwood who speak German,” she said. “I can feel my grandmother’s influence nearby.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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