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Connecting Career and Personal Experience




Christina Kim, M.D., has the unique perspective of being a pediatric urologist and the parent of a urology patient. Eighteen years ago, her daughter Hannah was born with hydronephrosis, or swelling of the kidney. This condition usually does not require intervention, but for Hannah’s severe case, Dr. Kim and her husband had to consider surgical reconstruction of Hannah’s kidney.

“I have managed many patients with the same condition. I had extensive knowledge of the condition, tests, management options and the associated risks and benefits. Despite this, making choices in Hannah’s care was not easy,” Dr. Kim recalled. “My biggest concerns were the health of her kidney and possible chronic health issues in the future.”

Dr. Kim’s experience gave her a valuable perspective she uses as a provider at Shriners Children’s New England in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“When meeting new patients, I often share my experiences as the parent of a urology patient. Parents feel more comfortable when they know that I have been in their shoes and I can truly empathize with their situation,” Dr. Kim shared. “This can lead to better connection and communication from the start.”

This also carries over to how she interacts with her pediatric patients. “As a mother, I value when providers take the time to directly engage and listen to my child, so I always try to take that approach with my patients. I engage with them first to understand what they think their appointment is about,” Dr. Kim said. “I’ll also ask about non-medical subjects, such as school, sports, hobbies or family, to break the ice.”

One of the unique aspects of pediatric urology, Dr. Kim says, is that many patients don’t know they have something atypical and come in unaware of why they’re there. But some may get shy because it involves a sensitive body area.

“I frequently draw pictures during the patient visit. I find that many people absorb more when combining verbal and visual explanations,” Dr. Kim said. “I also choose my words carefully in hopes that my assessment and advice is understood by both the patient and the parent or guardian.”

Her experiences as a parent and urologist have benefited patients throughout her 20-year career. “I have some patients who have something specific that I fixed, and it improved their quality of life,” she said. “I’ve also had patients I cared for from infancy until adulthood. Their medical care started when they were too young to talk, and 10 years later, they have conversations with me. It’s an honor when a parent and child share that my presence made a difference in their lives. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do this as my work.”