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Featured Scientist: Sept. 2015

lin kimberlyDr. Kimberly Lin

By David Woods, PhD.

Young Patients Seek Honesty and Trust in Medical Encounters

As an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and as the mother of 8-year-old Emily; 5-year-old Katie; and 2-year-old Nate, Dr. Kimberly Lin can stake a strong claim to knowing everything about kids from both a professional and a maternal standpoint.

She is quick to point out, though, that children are pretty smart patients. “They’ll feel you out,” she says. “They’re suspicious at first; they’re not sure when they can trust you.”

To approach them in a nonthreatening way, Dr. Lin has abandoned her white coat and seeks to gain her young patients’ trust and confidence through being honest and straightforward. “If they’re scared about an injection, tell them up front that it might hurt just a little.” 

Of course, Kim, as she’s widely known even to her patients, brings something special and of inestimable value to her charges. To begin with, at 38, she’s a bit closer to their age than many of the physicians they’ll encounter; but perhaps more important, she brings a warm smile and a hearty laugh to the doctor-patient relationship. “It’s a privilege to work with young people,” she says. Dr. Lin did her internship and residency at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she also became chief resident in pediatrics. Following that, she became a fellow in pediatric cardiology at CHOP where she was also a fellow in pediatric cardiomyopathy and heart transplantation.

Today, she’s an assistant professor of pediatrics at CHOP and attending physician at that hospital’s Department of Pediatrics, division of cardiology.

Beyond the day-to-day clinical work, Kim serves as a peer reviewer for Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation and Cardiology in the Young, and she has lectured and published widely in her specialty. Among the 15 or so co-authored abstracts she’s produced, one seems especially consonant with her views about the doctor-patient relationship: “Pediatric Trials Are Not Small Adult Trials.”

Dr Lin has won awards for excellence in clinical skills, for outstanding clinical performance and the American Heart Association’s Women in Cardiology trainee award for excellence. She is a member of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
As a member of a heart transplant team, Dr. Lin says that most of her work comes before and after, rather than during, surgery. She also selects patients who are suitable for a transplant, which is not a cure, she explains – it’s trading one medical condition for another. A lot of the pre-and postoperative input involves working with parents and relatives of the patient. Counseling. Caring. Again, that’s where her warmth and empathy serve her well.

She chose to work in cardiology, she says, because “It’s exhilarating. I’ve always loved it because it consists of both the art and the science of medicine.”

Dr. Lin’s involvement in Friedreich’s ataxia in general, and FARA in particular, came about, “because I was in the right place at the right time,” she says. “I went to a couple of FA meetings and got to know people in the Alliance.”

FARA’s executive director Jen Farmer notes that “Dr Lin’s keen sensitivity to her patients’ experiences not only informs her clinical care but also her research questions, so that all of her work stems from improving the quality and length of life.”

To learn more about Dr. Lin’s Cardiac Care in FA Program, click here.

To learn more about Dr. Lin’s Cardiac Research Studies in FA, click below:
Exercise in Friedreich’s Ataxia
Cardiac MRI and Biomarkers in Friedreich’s Ataxia

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