Celebrating Doctor’s Day: Meet Dr. Kyle Kirkham!

We are Women’s offers the WCH community a chance to get to know each other and share our stories.

Name: Kyle Kirkham

Pronouns: He/Him

Title & Department:  Chair – Medical Advisory Committee, Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine

On the WCH team for: 10 years

1. What does your typical workday look like?

Every day is different and that is part of what makes my job so great. Some days I get to help individual patients through some of the most challenging experiences of their lives, keeping them safe and comfortable while they undergo life changing surgery. Some days I teach the next generation of anesthesiologists or run simulations that help our OR teams work better together in emergencies. Some days I work to ensure that the new physicians joining the Women’s College community meet the highest standards of care and some days I work hand in hand with other leaders to make all of our daily work more effective, efficient, fulfilling and safe. The best part is that every day is part of a team.

2. What excites you the most about working at WCH?

Although WCH strives for some of the same goals of our partner hospitals to ensure world class care for Ontario’s patients, it is like no other institution for many reasons. Working in a smaller, intimate institution has provided me the chance to lead change and be part of the community in ways that larger institutions cannot support. The opportunities for career development and advancement by putting your ideas into practice are incredible at WCH and you see it all around you in this hospital. It is evident in the mission and values of the hospital and in the programs that we have developed. It is clear in our philosophy, our support for under-serviced and equity deserving groups and even in our commitment to our own team members. I feel that every day at WCH is a chance to have an impact and contribute to moving things forward.

3. How does your work contribute to creating a positive patient experience?

Working in health care, we are privileged to impact patients at a system level and to support individual patients during profoundly personal moments. In my leadership roles, I have input into how WCH ensures high quality care across every program in the hospital. My work contributes to these conversations at the Hospital Board and throughout the formal structure that is responsible for the quality of care our patients receive. While meaningful, this work can be a bit detached from the experience of individual patients and my greatest opportunity to contribute to the patient experience is every day that I am in the OR. Meeting new patients who quite literally place their lives in our hands during their anesthetic, working to make that experience full of confidence, support, compassion and empathy is at the heart of being an anesthesiologist. Every member of the perioperative team is a big part of that positive patient experience and I think we do it very well at WCH.

4. Tell us one to three things that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you!

Although I love my job, I have some small regret that I missed out on a different path I might have loved even more. Learning about Anesthesia made me realize how interesting our bodies are and how we adapt to unique environments like high altitude or diving under water. I became interested in what it means for astronauts to fly in space and I actually spent some time working at NASA as a Resident to learn about spaceflight and aerospace medicine. If I had the chance to do it over, I might have pursued this passion more and tried to join the Canadian Space Agency and I still dream of one day maybe seeing Earth from outside our atmosphere.