This week’s faculty spotlight shines on critical care physician Kyle Rehder, MD. Rehder talks to us about how he became interested in critical care medicine, the impact of his training at Duke, his current research interests, and his interests outside work.
How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I came to Duke in 2007 for my fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care. What brought me here, and what has kept me here, is the balance of innovative clinical care and research, couched in a program that supports collegiality, education, and excellence. I am a native North Carolinian and proud to now call Durham my home.
What are your responsibilities within the Division of Critical Care Medicine? What does a typical day for you look like?
My time is split into three big buckets: clinical care, education, and healthcare quality. I attend in the Pediatric ICU and oversee the educational experience for trainees in that unit: fellows, residents, and students (medical, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant). I am also the fellowship director for Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and help teach the Capstone course at the medical school. At the health system level, I am a Physician Quality Officer, essentially acting as the medical director for our Patient Safety Center. I lead education efforts around quality, participate broadly in health system quality efforts, and co-chair the DUHS Patient Advisory Council. My days are varied and unpredictable: my clinical days are usually busy in the ICU, while other days may be filled with teaching and mentoring fellows and residents, attending meetings, leading classes on teamwork, answering emails, writing papers, or traveling around the country or world to teach or present research.
How did you first get interested in medicine? What made you decide to pursue pediatric critical care medicine in particular?
I came to medicine later than most, having first trained as a chemical engineer. I was called to medicine for many altruistic reasons, as well as the opportunities for lifelong learning and career autonomy. Pediatric critical care appealed to me because the acuity of the patients, the strong foundation in applied physiology, the ability to support families during the worst times of their lives, and because of children’s amazing ability to recover from illness and injury.
What’s one thing you wished more of your patients knew about critical care medicine or medicine in general?
I want patients to understand the complex team necessary to provide the best care, and that patients and families are an essential part of that team. Just as each healthcare provider brings a unique medical expertise, patients can provide their own expertise on their personal medical history, their values and priorities, and their preferences for treatments.
What are your specific interests in the field of critical care medicine?
Within critical care medicine, my primary interests lie in mechanical ventilation and extracorporeal support. More broadly, I am interested in education, healthcare quality, interprofessional teamwork, patient centered-care, and healthcare worker resilience.
Is there any research you are doing or plan on doing?
My current research is largely focused at the Patient Safety Center. Our research focuses on assessing and understanding safety culture, new methods to teach and support teamwork, and burnout and resilience in healthcare providers. The latter is led by my colleague Dr. Bryan Sexton and supported through a large NIH grant.
You completed your fellowship in critical care medicine here at Duke. How did that experience help prepare you for your current position? Can you name one or two memorable moments or aspects of the program that stand out?
The biggest impact my training at Duke had was the opportunities to receive mentorship and engagement in some of the behind-the-scenes activities that make patient care possible. The activities that I was involved in as a fellow have a direct tie-in to the work I do today.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
Most of my time away from work is dedicated to my family. I do my best to be a loving husband and a good father to two pre-teen daughters, who are each engaged in a variety of activities. I enjoy cooking, swimming, time at the lake or beach, and when I get the chance, woodworking and carpentry.