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Local ENT Dreams of Mission Work After Retirement

By Emily Jo Poff
Hottytoddy.com intern

Many doctors have grand ideas of where they want to push themselves and progress their communities. For Dr. John Laurenzo, a local otolaryngologist, his loyalty remains where he first planted his roots – Oxford.

While he grew up in the area, he always had dreams of moving away to big cities where he might be presented with more challenging cases.

As he began to pursue educational opportunities, he found himself in medical school at Vanderbilt. Upon graduation, he finished a year of general surgeries and four years of ear, nose and throat specialization at a practice in Iowa.

Dr. John Laurenzo and his wife on a gondola. Photo provided.

“People wondered why I had picked a place up in the cold dark north, but Iowa had the reputation of putting people out that were future leaders and heads in their fields,” Laurenzo said.

A series of events led Dr. Laurenzo back to Oxford, including getting married to his high school sweetheart and welcoming their first child.

During that process, he worked at a practice in Memphis where he took on cases at Methodist Central Hospital, Baptist Memorial Hospital and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

“I was in a practice and an environment in which I wanted to be in but not quite,” he said.

While he was in Memphis, doctors in Oxford encouraged him to move back to Oxford. This group of doctors was trying to make a better medical facility for their community. They were on their own and desperately needed a doctor of Laurenzo’s skills.

“Having them already down here and paving the way made it possible for me to have more complicated surgeries and cases that I wanted to focus on,” Laurenzo said. “There is no way that I could have done what I was able to accomplish without their help.”

This was a pivotal time to be in the medical field, he said, and especially being a part of a team that was furthering the Oxford community. These doctors were also bringing with them modern techniques to innovate the field.

“Looking back, I was truly lucky to be a part of this. I would not have been able to accomplish so much in my field without their hard work,” Laurenzo said.

Oxford at this time was growing, the hospital had just established an ICU, and it was gaining a field specialist. Laurenzo had started the groundwork to open his own practice where he had other otolaryngologists working there as well.  

“This was a big risk back then. No one was opening their own practices. Most doctors worked for a hospital or at an established practice,” Laurenzo said.

Laurenzo opened his own practice of Otolaryngology and, in January, they will celebrate their 25th anniversary. Dr. Laurenzo considers himself so humbled for the opportunity God gave him to open his practice where his first dreams of being a doctor began. His biggest thanks are “having really great nurses” working for him from day one.

Jasmine Walker, head nurse for Laurenzo, said working for him has been the best experience. 

“Patients always are very pleased, and he really takes his time with them and works hard,” she said.

When Dr. Laurenzo’s practice keeps moving forward—making sure he has taken care of his community first—he has plans of doing mission work where he can focus on the needs of others around the world in Africa, India, or even Honduras. 

“Sooner rather than later, since my children are grown up now, I would love to take the time (to do mission work),” he said. 

Oxford will always be home to Dr. Laurenzo, he said. 

“I strive to make this a better place because this is my home. In a sense, it is my job, but more importantly, this is where my family and friends are. I just feel that I expect that of myself,” Laurenzo said.

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