Waldemar "Wally" Wenner
Waldemar "Wally" Wenner brings compassion and ethics to his work as a pediatric hospitalist at O'Connor Hospital and at the Pediatric Center for Life. Wenner originally became interested in the Ethics Center back in 1994, when he heard about the Center’s Health Care Ethics Internship program. The internship is a year-long program which places students in local hospitals and other health care facilities, where they shadow and learn from nurses, physicians, chaplains, social workers, and many other health care professionals. This provides the opportunity to witness, first hand, the ethical issues that arise in the health care setting on a daily basis. The students deepen their understanding of these ethical issues by attending lectures and participating in group reflection sessions.
This past year, Wenner became an integral part of this internship program when he agreed to host health care ethics interns during his pediatric rounds. Anna Kozas, who manages the clinical rotations, says, "When our interns shadow Dr. Wenner, they get an up-close look at some of the ethical issues that come up as he examines his young patients and counsels their parents. We encourage them to find a moment when he is between patients to ask questions and delve into the issues they observed that day. The results have been incredible. Dr. Wenner is so incredibly patient and informative - a natural mentor!"
Wenner credits his undergraduate degree in philosophy at St. John's University in Minnesota with equipping him to see his work through an "ethics lens." This perspective remained with him as he earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School, as he worked in his residency at UC San Francisco, and during the time he taught at UC Los Angeles and the University of Washington.
"I've been blessed to have some great experiences, and to receive some thoughtful guidance along the way," Wenner adds. "My own mentors, Mary Olne at UCSF and Moses Grossman at SF General Hospital, showed such great patience and answered all of my questions when I was in my residency. Now I have a chance to give back. By providing these undergraduate students with the opportunity to follow me during my rounds at O’Connor Hospital. I can help them understand the context in which ethical decisions are made. They get to see first-hand that ethics is a part of a healthcare professional's everyday life. This prepares them for decisions they'll make in graduate school and in their future jobs." "These students come back from their rotations with him filled with ideas and energy, and ask us to send them back even after their required internship hours have been completed," says Kozas. "We are truly grateful to Dr. Wenner for enriching these students’ lives!"
In his free time, Wenner enjoys attending the Ethics Center's lectures and receptions, which provide fresh perspectives on ethics in health care and a broad range of other topics. His generous support each year ensures that the Center can continue to present these programs and help a new crop of interns develop their moral compass.