Alumni Board Specialty Spotlight

Leonardo Oliveira, MD (IM’10, PC/SM'11)

Leonardo Oliveira, MD (IM’10, PC/SM’11), is on the Sports Medicine staff at Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston. He serves on the Alumni Association Board as a Specialty Director for Internal Medicine.

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Q. What led you to a career in medicine?

A. I don’t have a clear explanation, but I am the middle child of three boys, and when my mother was expecting my little brother, who’s 5 years younger, I always wanted to go with her to her medical appointments. I would go dressed in white and have my own briefcase. I observed how doctors conducted themselves and cared for people. I wanted to act like one of them. These interactions evolved into the desire to help others in the face of their illness. In high school, I was intrigued by human biology and how the different organ systems worked so perfectly together despite being so complex. Medicine is unique with it is multifaceted challenges. It will push us to grow and evolve. There will always be an opportunity to help patients feel better and improve their quality of life.

Q. Is there a professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

A. I think there are several. I feel fortunate to have been a founding faculty member of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and I have been instrumental in the development of the faculty practice. Another work-related accomplishment of which I am proud is being selected as an American Medical Society of Sports Medicine Fellow for a traveling fellowship in 2018 and having the opportunity to travel through Scandinavia, present at different sites and network with physicians from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Q. What is your favorite memory at Cleveland Clinic?

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A. Tough question. There are so many special moments. The Clinical Scholars program is certainly a highlight. The ability to receive additional training in becoming a physician-scientist was a unique experience. I still remember particular moments in those classes. Presenting and receiving two awards at research presentations. The Broadway plays and Cleveland Clinic Guardians games which my wife and I were able to attend.

Drs. Oliveira and Lefferts during the 2023 spring alumni award reception at Foundation House.

Q. Who was your mentor at Cleveland Clinic?

A. I had several as a trainee at Cleveland Clinic. William Lefferts, MD (IM’73), was my longitudinal preceptor and my internal medicine mentor. He helped broaden my differential diagnoses and be selective on which tests I selected. The focus was on good history and physical examination. Choose wisely and have a sound reason of why you are ordering each test. That resounded really strongly with me and is something that I teach nowadays. We can avoid unnecessary testing and decrease healthcare costs.  Another person who impacted my career was Richard Figler, MD (Staff’93), who also was my preceptor for the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship. Wilson Tang, MD (CARD’03, C/HFT’04), in Cardiology was my Clinical Scholars Program mentor and researcher with whom I was working at the time. Craig Nielsen, MD, FACP (IM’97) was my program director and a key person who helped me navigate the different career paths.

Q. Why did you want to serve on the Alumni Board?

A. It’s an honor to contribute and hopefully give back to a place that received me with open arms. In 2006, being selected for an elective as a foreign medical student (I was born, raised, and completed medical school in Brazil) was hard. Furthermore, several institutions required you to pay tuition. My parents couldn’t afford it. Despite these hardships, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in rotations at a world-renowned medical institution (Cleveland Clinic) without having to pay for tuition and lodging.  My rotations at the Clinic allowed me to acquire the experience I needed to move to the next step in my medical training. It also allowed me to witness the training and life of the residents at CCF. That provided me with reassurance that CCF was the place to be.

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Q. What do you like to do outside of work?

A. I really enjoy spending time with my family at the beach and practicing sports. Previously, I was more focused on running and completed four marathons. In 2020, Dr. Kevin Stadtlander (Staff’09) motivated me to participate in the virtual VeloSano. A friend of mine lent me his road bike, and I got interested in cycling. Since then I incorporated cycling into my routine and have completed a  4 sprint/olympic triathlons and one 70.3 triathlon (half-ironman). 

Family time at the beach in the Dominican Republic. Top to bottom: Lucas (6), Luiza (8), Juliana, Leonardo

Q. Do you have any advice for future alumni?

A. First, stay connected. It’s always encouraging to see all the changes occurring at Cleveland Clinic. These changes inspire us to grow, innovate and collaborate wherever we are. There are plenty of learning opportunities via in-person or virtual CMEs and training opportunities even after fellowship(i.e., leadership and coaching programs). Speak to colleagues, residents, and medical students about your time in Cleveland. For sure they can benefit from all that Cleveland Clinic has to offer and become part of this great family.