Rapid Rounds: 5 Minutes with Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng

Written By The Rounds

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Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng is an Intensive Care and Palliative physician who works out of Ottawa, Ontario. Alongside his day job, Dr. Kwadwo is also a researcher at the Ottawa Research Institute and the Mumphord Institute: but that’s not all. On top of that, he has his very own podcast, Solving Healthcare, where he’s dedicated his time to spark divergent conversations with innovators who are set to ameliorate the Canadian healthcare system.

Keep reading to find out more about Dr. Kwadwo. Discover what inspired him to become a physician in the first place, how he envisions a better healthcare system and his advice to doctors’ future generations.

1. What made you want to get into the medical field and specifically into your specialty?

I was a pretty sickly kid. I suffered from bad asthma, so everyone, my family included, felt anxious when I was hospitalized and having a tough time breathing. However, my pediatrician would walk into a room with his calm demeanour and always make me feel like things would be okay. He had that kind of presence. So from then on, I told myself I wanted to have that same impact on patients and their families. The team environment drew me in too, where you’re getting input from the nurse, the respiratory therapist, the physiotherapist, and all of that groups your decision making. I often get the question from people that aren’t in the medical field, ‘How can you do that? It’s so depressing.’ What I tell them is, ‘These patients are dying regardless, so at least we can do our part to make it as painless and as dignified as possible.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your podcast and what inspired you to start it? 

I started a research group called the Resource Optimization Group interested in doing more with less and making healthcare more sustainable. What we were noticing is that not a lick was changing. The awareness wasn’t changing. Behaviour wasn’t changing. We sat down and said, ‘We have to do something more here.’ We thought about getting the word out; maybe we should start a podcast and have that ability to expand knowledge and conversations and expand into circles that may not hear about what we’re doing. We began by focusing on what we study, but it’s expanded out into so much more. For example, a lot of our initial content was on futile care and aggressive measures in the ICU. Now we’ve gone as far as to talk about preventing people from coming into the ICU by promoting healthy living through intermediate fasting, staying fit, and being more resilient during tough times. We’ve discussed a ton on Covid-19.  It’s been an amazing year and a half, and it’s completely changed my life.

3. In every intro, you say that “you are on a mission to transform healthcare” in Canada. How do you envision a better healthcare system? What steps are needed to get there?

There’s so much out there that we, as mainstream clinicians, don’t know. One of the huge risk factors for Covid-19 is obesity, type 2 diabetes, or some other kind of metabolic syndrome. I would say about 90% of the patients I’ve seen have some combination of the two. As I’m doing the podcast and learning about these risk factors, I’m left wondering what people can do to get healthier. Suppose you were to have a family member with type 2 diabetes and use a combination of either intermediate fasting, low-carb diet or ketogenic diet. How quickly do you think you could come off of diabetic medication? I would think it would take a couple of years. However, you talk to doctors around the world who get people off their meds in two weeks! I’m like, how are we not screaming this to the world? There’s a ton of innovation in healthcare. For some reason, we are dinosaurs. We don’t like change. People always ask, ‘Why do you care about that stuff?’ Because ultimately, it’s about compassion.

4. If you could give medical students and young physicians just one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay authentic. Be yourself. You realize that you can be yourself in the medical community. A lot of us older guys, I think we’re playing a game of we’ll be who you want us to be, and I’m saying this because there’s a lot of burnout and suicide and issues amongst the medical community. The root of a lot of this is not staying authentic. Promote action and out-of-the-box thinking. You do not need permission to do what you think is right. You are young, you are full of great ideas, and you see some of the wrongdoings that may be happening in healthcare. The innovators come from youth. Choose action over dwelling. I’m a big believer in, ‘Do it. Ask for forgiveness after. Action is what creates change. We could sit here and chirp about it all winter and all spring, but you have to create action if you want to make a change. Realize the power that you have and continue to hustle.

5. You address systemic racism in healthcare in a handful of your episodes. How can listeners use this information to create change?

A couple of things, one, embrace diversity. Ask yourself whether you are a diverse organization or group. It benefits everybody. It increases perspective. You look at companies, and the more diverse ones are the ones that are thriving because you have that added perspective and more relatability to their clients, and in our context, to the patients. Another thing, be compassionate. Know that every racialized person you’ve encountered has had a horrible experience because of the way they look. Know that deep inside you. They’ve felt so small because of something someone has said. They’ve been mistreated at a few points in their life and for some people, a lot of times in their lives. So be compassionate. If you’ve got the courage, then call it out. I’ve got to tell you the emotional energy it takes when you feel like you’re in a vulnerable position where an authoritative person says something inappropriate. Why’s it only have to be the brother who says something? Do you know what I mean? Step up. This is 2021. Rise. Do your part, and we’ll all be in a better spot as a result.

6. Where can our audience find you?

You can find us, Solving Healthcare, at solvinghealthcare.ca. You can find us anywhere you listen to your podcasts, whether that be Apple, Spotify, all the major places. On socials, you can find us @kwadcast on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.