Avinash B. Kumar, MBBS, FCCP
Clinical Associate Professor of Anesthesia
What is your hometown?
I am originally from Bangalore, India. Bangalore is a bustling metropolis of more than five million people in southern India.
When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?
I came to Iowa to do my fellowship in Critical Care in 2004. I had the good fortune of being offered a faculty position in 2005 upon completion of my fellowship. I have been here since then.
How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?
I underwent a major academic transition in the 6th grade. It still feels like a light switch was flipped on.
I learned to ask questions and to look for answers. Much to my parents’ relief, my academic performance improved as well.
What interested you to pursue a career in Critical Care?
There is a certain sense of invincibility when one enters medical school. Three months into medical school I watched helplessly as one of my dearest family members succumbed to a treatable illness in an ICU.
I realized how little I knew about real medicine, and ever since I wanted to be in a place and field where I could really make a difference when patients needed me the most.
Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?
The person I always credit for keeping the flame of medicine alive in me was my mentor in medical school, the Late Professor MV Govindappa FRCP. He was a master clinician, phenomenal teacher, and ethical and honest person whom I still think about on a frequent basis. When I run into a difficult clinical situation, I often ask myself …what would Professor MV Govindappa do?
How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?
The University of Iowa has had a long-standing reputation for academic excellence.
The fellowship in critical care with the Department of Anesthesia offered an excellent blend of clinical expertise and flexibility to develop specialized skills beyond the ICU.
The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient centered care and education?
My work in anesthesia and critical care has led to the development of a potential new airway device that is currently under prototype development.
I have also had the good fortune of collaborating with other team members to develop an iPhone application for CCRN (nursing), Pediatric Anesthesia and Anesthesia Board Review.
What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?
The Department of Anesthesia at Iowa has several nationally and internationally renowned Anesthesiologists and the opportunity to work with them was an absolute pleasure and a major incentive for me to be part of the department. Working with residents and fellows has been a true highlight of my term here at Iowa.
Please describe your professional interests.
Critical care is an amalgam of the best of several fields. I am currently working on issues related to acute kidney injury in the ICU. I am also interested in developing and expanding educational content delivery using mobile devices.
What led to your interest in Critical Care?
The ICU is sometimes the last place where one can truly make a difference to patient survival.
A good intensivist needs to be able to bridge and integrate the best skills of several specialties. This was the appeal of intensive care medicine for me.
How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?
Working with world-class physicians and scientists has opened up the possibility to collaborate on projects that are simply not possible outside the realm of academics.
What are some of your outside interests?
I play tennis, and I am learning to play golf. My wife and I like to travel.
Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?
In any endeavor, at any given point in time, strive to be a cut above the rest.
If you could change one thing about the world, or the world of medicine, what would it be?
Medicine is becoming far too compartmentalized and learning is becoming more superficial. I hope the value of depth of knowledge and clinical examination skills are not lost in the future.
What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?
The rate and ease of dissemination of information has grown exponentially. The growth of evidence-based practice is changing the way medicine is being practiced all over the world.
What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?
Depth of knowledge will keep you ahead of the pack. Always respect your patients and always try to make your family proud.
What do you see as "the future" of medicine?
Push for evidence-based practice and the ever-increasing role of technology in daily medical practice
In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e. population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?
The people of Iowa have been very good to my family and me. I can always do more to give back to the great state of Iowa.