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Medical Detective Spotlight: Kwalk21

Medical Detective Spotlight: Kwalk21

Kwalk21 has been part of the CrowdMed Medical Detective Network since 2014 and also operates as a case Moderator. Kwalk21 has submitted 28 winning suggestions to date and has provided amazing support for countless patients who have come to CrowdMed looking for answers.

Kwalk21’s decision to pursue a career in medicine occurred early on in high school after shadowing an oncologist for a year as a part of a class. Today, Kwalk21 conducts research in Orthopedic Surgery, with a focus on pre-operative planning and one of his passion points,  patient specific instrumentation. Kwalk21 is also a general practitioner that focuses on pain and addiction medicine. Outside of medical related interests, Kwalk21 enjoys skiing, attending concerts and sporting events, tennis and bar trivia.

What is your favorite part about practicing medicine?

The chance to meet people from all walks of life and the mental challenges involved in patient care.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?

It’s difficult to imagine a different career path, but with my background in engineering I could see myself designing medical equipment. In a case where I was trying to step away from medicine, I think a career as an astronaut would be exciting and rewarding.

Who is your mentor/inspiration?

Many physicians focus almost entirely on research or entirely on their clinical practice. The head of the department that I currently work for has great surgical skills, but also exhibits a phenomenal approach to clinical research. I admire anyone that can maintain that balance.

What are your “words to live by”?

I used to work with a chief resident that, if someone asked whether or not they should do a specific task, he would typically respond with: “Do the right thing.” It was a way of saying to the person that they likely already knew what they should do. I think this applies outside of medicine as well.

If you could change one thing about the healthcare system today, what would it be?

I would make healthcare less business orientated and make pharmaceuticals less commercialized. While some good things do come from both of these, the constant push to decrease medical costs inevitably results in reduced quality of care. Additionally, the constant barrage of advertisements for drugs can convince patients that they need something that might be more harmful than beneficial.

If you could make any fictional doctor a real one, who would you chose and why?

John Watson, notorious side kick to Sherlock Holmes. While I think the TV show House did a good job of personifying what Sherlock Holmes would have been like as a modern day physician, the shtick was obviously how poor his bedside manner was. I think John Watson would have exhibited a good balance of observational skills, deductive reasoning, and compassion. 

If someone came to you to ask for your advice on becoming a doctor, what would you say to them?

Spend time with a few doctors on a “typical” day and be sure that is what you want to do before making the leap. There are many great aspects to the job, but there will undoubtedly be less time off and more paperwork than you anticipated. Don’t let yourself get drawn to the field primarily because of a perceived lifestyle or income—you will be disappointed.

What is the best piece of medical advice you have ever received?

I was taught in medical school to never land on the first diagnosis you come to, try to mentally convince yourself that a patient must have something else before circling back to a seemingly more obvious conclusion.

What is one medical myth you’d like to debunk?

The ongoing myth that vaccines are bad. Even if they sometimes cause side effects, the overwhelming majority of the time the side effects are much less than the symptoms of the diseases that they are preventing.

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