Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Romina Kim
Dec 16, 2021 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Meet Dr. Romina Kim, a pediatric hospitalist at Cedars-Sinai. She was born in Argentina, but Dr. Kim’s Southern California roots run deep: After emigrating to the U.S. as a child, she attended high school in the Inland Empire and college at UCLA, where she nurtured a passion for giving back to the community.
Whether it was with her stint as a Teach for America corps member in South Central Los Angeles or her time spent in Flint, Michigan, distributing clean drinking water to residents affected by that city's infamous water crisis, Dr. Kim built an impressive track record of impact—one that continues carrying her forward today.
"I like the immediate gratification of being able to ease their worries, put together the puzzle pieces of whatever is going wrong and then get their kids well so they can return home and resume their lives"
What is a pediatric hospitalist?
Why did you choose that specialty?
RK: As pediatricians, most of our training actually centers around inpatient work. I was fascinated by the pathology we would see and how diverse teams from across the hospital would join forces to arrive at a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
It's scary when a child is sick—the family comes to us during a vulnerable time. I like the immediate gratification of being able to ease their worries, put together the puzzle pieces of whatever is going wrong and then get their kids well so they can return home and resume their lives. Helping families through that is something I find extremely rewarding.
Helping by healing seems to be a theme in both your professional and personal life. What drives your passion for giving back?
RK: I've always felt it was important to meet the needs of everyone in our community. Even as an undergraduate at UCLA, I did a lot of volunteer work at the border.
While I was a medical resident, I served as a volunteer physician with the UCLA Flying Samaritans, joining other attending doctors to offer free health services and health education to rural communities in Rancho Escondido and Colonia Margarita Moran.
In 2018, when a caravan of migrants began making their way to the U.S. to escape violence, poverty and persecution in Central America, a group of us felt it was imperative to take action to help, and we formed a nonprofit organization called Refugee Health Alliance (RHA).
Are you still involved with RHA?
RK: Yes, I’m on the board and am their primary pediatrician. We're a group of volunteer physicians from the U.S. and Mexico, as well as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, undergraduates and medical and nursing students.
Our goal is to provide ethical, holistic and culturally inclusive care and to advocate for all displaced and vulnerable people along the U.S.-Mexico border. We have teams on the ground full time, but on Saturdays I go down there and set up shop at various shelters to attend to refugees and asylum seekers. In total, we provide medical care at over 30 shelters and two clinics in Tijuana.
What has your experience at Cedars-Sinai been like so far?
RK: Being at an academic medical center keeps me constantly learning and allows me to stay current with the latest standards of care and clinical practice guidelines. And the environment is amazing: My colleagues and I all come from different places, so we're able to offer unique perspectives and soak up new ideas. Cedars-Sinai is a wonderful place to be!