An interview with Dr. Rohail Kumar

DR. ROHAIL KUMAR, HIS WIFE MARISSA AND LEO THE CAT!

Today is National Physicians’ Day! Join us as we thank our physicians for the care, dedication and compassion they show every single day to help improve the quality of life of infants, children, youth and families.

We are celebrating the day with this insightful interview featuring a dedicated pediatric hospice palliative care physician! 🩺 Learn why Dr. Rohail Kumar chose to specialize in this challenging but meaningful field.

Why did you choose pediatric palliative care medicine?

Initially I wanted to pursue a career in Pediatric Critical Care. It’s similar in the sense that both palliative care and critical care deal with medically complex patients. However, there are some nuances between the two, and they can both be viewed through the same and yet a very different lens. I took care of many patients in the PICU who unfortunately, did not survive. It was those experiences that made me pursue a career in pediatric palliative care. I wanted to help families beyond the acute management of their serious illness and to help advocate for them and provide them with a sense of empowerment in participating in their child’s care though often very challenging times.

Why is pediatric palliative care so important to children and families who need it?

A: Pediatric Palliative care aims to help children and their families who are navigating a serious illness, so that they can fully enjoy the remainder of their life- however short or long that may be, doing what they love, being with those they want to be with, and making beautiful memories not only for themselves, but for those who will be left behind. It is about providing dignity and support to continue living their best lives, with pain and symptoms well managed, and without being fearful of their journey. Some patients have more time than others, and health declines rapidly for some. However, I believe palliative care is about living life in the here and now and optimizing quality of life. Serious illness often leads to physical, emotional, spiritual, and social distress for children and their families. Palliative care provides a holistic approach to address these and hence is such an important aspect of care for those who need it.

What brings the most meaning to your work?

Being able to support children and their families through serious illness is nothing short of rewarding. I think every aspect of my work is meaningful.

What is one of your favorite memories working with children and families with palliative care needs?

I can think of a recent memory – I went for a home visit along with a colleague recreational therapist to visit a patient and their family. The patient often played UNO with the recreational therapist and I was invited to join their game that day. I kept losing game after game (even though I tried very hard). It was an exceptional moment where I was able to witness a child who was close to dying, and yet so determined to win the game and celebrate each victory with such passion! The smile on their face every time they won a game has become one of my favorite memories!

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