When Doctor Becomes Patient

Sapna Kudchadkar, MD, PhD, is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the departments of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, pediatrics and physical medicine and rehabilitation. She works in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and directs its Clinical Research Program. She is also a wife, mother of two, and daughter. And in March this year, she became among the first 200 people in Maryland to contract the COVID-19 virus. When she recovered and returned to work, she was assigned to treat adult patients with COVID-19.

Dr. Kudchadkar talked with me about the impact COVID-19 had on her family and both her and her patients’ physical and emotional health. The absence of human touch for weeks or a fleeting chance to identify a human face, despite all the protective gear, shaped her own clinical course and that of her patients.

She says the principles of care that are so critical to a pediatrician’s day-to-day work -- such as centering the care around the family, preserving familiar routines to the extent possible, and being playful -- were exactly what the adult COVID-19 patients needed.

“It was a really eye-opening experience to me how much intersection there is between pediatric medicine and adult medicine in this sense,” Dr. Kudchadkar says.

About the Author

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA, is the President and CEO of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). As leader of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) staff and a member of the nonprofit organization's Board of Directors, Dr. Nichols actively promotes high-quality health care for children by upholding the standards of certification in pediatrics and by encouraging and facilitating initiatives in quality improvement. Although he assumed his new leadership role in late 2012, he has been associated with the ABP for more than 20 years. He is board certified in General Pediatrics and is board certified and maintaining certification in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.