Michael Kim reflects on 15 years as pediatric emergency medicine faculty at the UW–Madison

Dr. Michael Kim joined the Division of Emergency Medicine in the Department of Medicine in October 2007, establishing the first academic pediatric emergency medicine program at UW Health and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).

Dr. Kim is an associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics. In his 15 years at the UW SMPH, he has served as Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine from 2007-2011 and Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine from 2007-2018.

When he joined UW in 2007, emergency medicine and pediatric emergency medicine in particular looked very different than today. The Division of Emergency Medicine was just launching the first accredited emergency medicine residency program with 17 faculty and approximately 6,000 pediatric patient visits to the emergency department (ED) each year.

As the first board-certified pediatric emergency physician hired to the Division of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Kim began providing clinical care alongside existing Child Life Specialists, with a goal of supporting the specialized healthcare needs of children. He advocated for children’s emergency care through committee work throughout the institution and by building connections in the Department of Pediatrics and at UW Health and the American Family Children’s Hospital.

“My first year as faculty at UW, I focused on introducing the new pediatric emergency medicine program across UW Health and on understanding how it fits into the organization and our mission,” says Dr. Kim.

Pediatric emergency physicians Dr. Gregory Rebella and Dr. Joshua Ross were recruited in 2008 and 2009, respectively, allowing the small but nimble team to expand pediatric emergency medicine trained -provider coverage in the ED 12 hours daily. In 2011, Dr. Kim oversaw the construction of two pediatric exam rooms for a total of six pediatric-specific beds. Additional pediatric nurses and Child Life Specialists were recruited as the program continued to expand clinically.

Fast forward to 2022, the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine includes seven fellowship-trained pediatric emergency medicine faculty, has doubled its clinical footprint (13 pediatric exam rooms vs. 4 in 2007), tripled the number of pediatric patients cared for annually (approximately 18,000 vs. 6,000 in 2007), recruited a full complement of core pediatric nurses, and currently offers 18 total hours of pediatric emergency physician coverage daily with plans to expand to 24/7 coverage.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to have played a role in the birth of the pediatric emergency medicine program in 2007 and the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2015 and its explosive growth since,” notes Dr. Kim of the extraordinary expansion of pediatric emergency care at UW Health over the last 15 years.

Dr. Kim’s interest in advancing pediatric emergency care extends beyond UW and UW Health—and even the acute care setting. Ensuring health system readiness and consistency of care is of particular interest to him, so that all children can receive the best emergency care regardless of where they live and where they seek medical care within Wisconsin. “Our job is to ensure emergency services are ready for pediatric care,” says Dr. Kim. He is currently a co-investigator on a grant to improve pediatric care in community emergency departments statewide.

Dr. Kim currently serves as Pediatric EMS Medical Director for Dane County’s ALS Consortium and works to improve prehospital care for all children countywide through education and advocacy. At the state level, he has co-chaired the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) since 2008. The Wisconsin EMSC is a collaborative program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that aims to improve the quality of emergency care for children across the state, especially in rural areas, by focusing on outreach and education to expand capacity and improve the quality of pediatric emergency care.

Outside of pediatrics, some of his career highlights have come from research, academic affairs and mentorship, says Dr. Kim. “I am especially grateful for the opportunity to provide leadership for many of the junior faculty members through the process of academic promotion at UW–Madison.”

Dr. Kim has taken on several leadership roles in the Department of Emergency Medicine, including as a member and Chair of the Faculty Mentorship Committee since 2008, Chair of the Promotions and Tenure Committee from 2014-2021, Vice Chair of the Department Research Committee from 2008-2015, and Emergency Medicine Program Director for the Shapiro Summer Research Program for first-year medical students at the UW SMPH since 2015.

Dr. Kim plans to continue supporting the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine while improving prehospital and emergency department care for the children of Wisconsin until his retirement.