Frederic Guerrier, M.D. ’81, gives from the heart
By Karen Doss Bowman
Photography by Gregg McGough
o say that family physician Frederic Guerrier, M.D. ’81, is dedicated to improving people’s health in his community would be an understatement. Since 1982, Dr. Guerrier hasn’t missed a single shift — on the second Tuesday of every month — as a volunteer at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
“People ask me, ‘Why do you do it?’ and I say, ‘Why not?’” Dr. Guerrier said. “I have the means, so what I have to do is share it. It is a commitment I make to help people.”
That’s just one of many ways Dr. Guerrier gives back to help those in need.
Born and raised in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, Dr. Guerrier leads annual medical missions to his home nation to provide basic medical care for approximately 800 people. Generous friends and colleagues support his efforts with donations, providing funds for clothing, medications, and rebuilding a school destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. Dr. Guerrier also helps patients from Haiti travel to the U.S. for much-needed surgeries, including a teenager with a heart defect.
Dr. Guerrier’s commitment to serving others extends beyond Haiti and meeting people’s health care needs. His contributions to the Florida Prepaid College Plan covered the full, four-year college tuition for his two daughters, two nephews and a niece, and the daughters of two close friends.
In honor of his achievements, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians (FAFP) recognized Dr. Guerrier’s dedication to his profession and patients with the 2019 Family Physician of the Year Award.
“If you have a chance to give back, you should do it from the bottom of your heart and expect nothing in return,” said Dr. Guerrier, who’s been in private practice for three decades. “I’ve been very blessed, and so I give back. But to be recognized by my peers, it’s just validation that I picked the right career — that I went into medicine for all the right reasons. I’m still taking care of the patient, not the disease.”
A humble beginning
For most of his childhood, Dr. Guerrier and his five siblings were raised by their grandmother while their mother, Denise “Gracie” Louis, lived in Nassau, Bahamas, working to earn enough money to bring her family to the U.S. Her dream became a reality in 1967, when she moved to Miami — she brought her children in 1971. She worked as a maid to support them and made sure they all went to college.
“My mom is the mother of the century, the way she took care of us,” said Dr. Guerrier, noting that at 89, Gracie is bravely battling colon cancer.
At 16 years old, Dr. Guerrier enrolled at Miami Jackson Senior High School. Speaking only Creole, he relied on a well-worn English/French dictionary and a strong work ethic to excel in math and science. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Florida before enrolling at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
Looking forward to his 40th reunion at the Miller School next year, Dr. Guerrier is grateful for the faculty mentors who provided a solid foundation for his career and the lifelong friends he made. He supports the John K. Robinson Fund and the White Coat Fund for the John G. Clarkson Freshman White Coat and Pinning Ceremony each year.
“I’m proud to be an alumnus from one of the top medical schools in the country and to support them in every way because I received an amazing education,” he said.
Frederic Guerrier, M.D. ’81
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