Kris Rehm, MD, is associate professor of clinical pediatrics and director of the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. Dr. Rehm also serves as a pediatric hospitalist at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, chairs the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Pediatrics Committee, and is chair of the 2017 Pediatric Hospital Medicine meeting.
The Hospitalist recently spoke with Dr. Rehm about her career path to pediatric hospital medicine, the impact SHM has had on her career, and how she balances the busy schedule of a hospitalist with her family and personal life.
Question: How did you arrive at a career in pediatric hospital medicine?
Answer: In 2001, as a resident in the Boston Combined Residency Program in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, I knew that I preferred caring for patients who were acutely ill. I also enjoyed collaborating with subspecialists as we worked to diagnose and treat patients with some of the most complicated disease processes at a tertiary-care center. At this time, hospital medicine was still quite a young specialty.
After my residency, my husband and I moved from Boston to Nashville, and I worked in general pediatrics in the community for three years. In 2005, Vanderbilt was ready to begin a hospital medicine program. It was perfect timing for me, as I had just delivered my first set of twins. (Yes, that’s right—I have two sets of twins!)
I started to work part-time in hospital medicine—what a great opportunity! I was able to work in the acute-care setting, which I loved, with residents, students, and subspecialists that I loved, and also be home with my 1-year-old sons, Jackson and Lucas.
As time passed, I gradually moved from part-time to full-time. In addition, opportunities to advance in administrative leadership have helped me broaden my career, working as the medical director of hospital operations as well as the division director of hospital medicine.
Q: What is the most memorable moment in your career as a pediatric hospitalist?
A: Honestly, the most amazing memories that I have are when those in my division are successful—and that has happened a lot! In our division, we now have the dean of students at the medical school, the two faculty voted as best teachers by our residents last year, and the director of our Quality Academy at Vanderbilt. In fact, earlier this year, a member of our division won the teaching award voted on by residents—the third year in a row for her and our group. I am so proud of those members in my division. … They do incredible things at work and beyond.
While completing our annual reviews this spring, I had a chance to talk with faculty about contributions they have each made in making a diagnosis, comforting a patient, or assisting a family member through a difficult time. Moments like these truly inspire me to keep doing what I do.
Q: What do you find most valuable about your work with SHM?
A: Being involved in a national organization like SHM has opened tremendous doors for me, both personally and professionally. It has helped my academic promotion to associate professor, it has allowed me networking opportunities with leaders in both pediatric and adult hospital medicine, and it has had a tremendous impact on my life as an academic leader in hospital medicine.
The SHM Pediatrics Committee is another example of a truly collaborative group of individuals trying to make a difference every day for the children we care for and the hospital medicine specialty through our professional “home” of SHM. As chair of the Pediatrics Committee, I have had the chance to empower our new committee members who articulate willingness to take leadership to become active, engaged members of the society. Watching Drs. Charlotte Brown and Akshata Hopkins present the top articles in the Pediatric Hospital Medicine talk at HM16 in San Diego was an awesome example.
At the moment, we are jumping into planning for PHM17, and I am honored and excited to serve as chair of this meeting. I have attended annually since 2005, and to watch the meeting grow and take on many issues has been truly unbelievable. The meeting now draws nearly 1,000 pediatric hospitalists and is an invaluable opportunity for attendees to learn from each other.
SHM provides our members with the opportunity to become as engaged as you are able with committees, training opportunities, annual meetings, and more. So jump in!
Q: How do you balance your demanding schedule with your husband, children, and leisure?
A: Raising four young boys, now ages 9 and 12, with my husband and working full-time as a pediatric hospitalist is so challenging but so rewarding. (My husband and I are experts at Outlook invitations to coordinate a busy schedule of sporting events and school functions as well as night shifts for me and travel for him.) As a family, we spend lots of nights at the soccer field or basketball court, and we love to travel, ski, and swim. And personally, I run. That is my time to unwind. I just ask for one hour a day to exercise, which doubles as my therapy.
I run for Nashville Running Company, a local running store. Some of the other ladies and I meet most mornings at 5 a.m. This year, I ran in the St. George Marathon in Utah as well as the L.A. Marathon. Super fun! I’m planning to run the Chicago Marathon this fall, and Boston’s in the spring of 2017.
Q: As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of hospital medicine, how do you see HM evolving over the next 20 years?
A: What an interesting idea to consider! PHM is moving toward a board certification process, which will be exciting for our field. Similar to other specialties, such as pediatric emergency medicine, adolescent medicine, or child abuse pediatrics, it will be wonderful to watch our specialty gain recognition as a boarded specialty.
HM providers are positioned for leadership throughout organizations, and as we strive to provide the highest-value care, I believe we will continue to grow in this regard. PHM providers now serve as department chairs and hospital CEOs, CMOs, and many other leadership positions. At Vanderbilt, we are seeing some other divisions, such as pediatric neurology, hire neurologists who have inpatient versus outpatient interests. We may see this trend continue over time through other fields as well, with physicians providing specialty-specific hospital care expertise in very defined areas. TH
Brett Radler is SHM’s communications specialist.