Much like his NBA hero LeBron James, Dr. Brandon Roberts was thrilled to announce “I’m Coming Home” to his “fans” (or loved ones) earlier this year. Though he didn’t receive as much fanfare, he, too, was coming back to his hometown Akron to positively contribute to his winning team — his Akron Children’s team, that is.
After serving in various roles at Dayton Children’s Hospital, returning to Akron to join Akron Children’s as our newest pediatric anesthesiologist was a slam dunk for Dr. Roberts.
“I am super excited to be back home working in the community that raised me,” he said. “I hope to add energy and a fresh perspective to my department and our institution. I also hope to leave it a better place than I found it by contributing to the optimization of our institution’s strengths and helping to make improvements in any areas of need.”
What impression does he hope to leave with his patients? Dr. Roberts’ goal is to ensure patient families that they are at the right place, at the right time and under the care of the right providers. That’s a big win for him each and every time.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
After serving in various roles at Dayton Children’s Hospital, where I worked for the past 7 years after completing my residency and fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return home to the community that molded me into the person that I am today. As a son of Akron, the reputation and high-quality care provided by Akron Children’s Hospital is not new to me.
As the anesthesia department and hospital continue to grow, I think I have a lot to offer. The time to return home felt right. I am a big LeBron James fan, and it felt tremendous when I broke the news to my loved ones that I, too, was “Coming Home.” I definitely had much less fanfare than LeBron, but I’m equally excited for this new journey and challenge.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
I will serve as a pediatric anesthesiologist here at Akron Children’s. I am super excited to be back home working in the community that raised me. I hope to add energy and a fresh perspective to my department and our institution. I also hope to leave it a better place than I found it by contributing to the optimization of our institution’s strengths and helping to make improvements in any areas of need.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
I chose pediatric anesthesia for a variety of reasons. I don’t want to sound too much like a fellowship applicant, but it is a choice that I completely nailed in hindsight. I really enjoy the challenges provided by my specialty, the fulfillment provided in caring for the pediatric population, and the collaboration with the high-quality professionals and personalities that are also called into this type of environment.
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
Two mentors really come to mind with respect to academic/professional mentorship. The late Dean James McLeod was my first academic mentor. He was an African-American dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at my alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. Although I was in the School of Engineering, his door was always open and he made time to meet with me whenever I deemed necessary.
Dr. Robert Haynie, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, was my second academic mentor. Dr. Haynie is tremendous not only due to his brilliant intellect, but also because of his humility and sensible personality, which I truly admire.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I want my patients to know that they are at the right place, at the right time, under the care of the right provider who will ensure that they are in the best of hands.
What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you as a provider?
My previous center was an organ harvest center. Pediatric organ harvests can be especially difficult mentally because such a selfless act is the result of tremendous tragedy. This selflessness is a breath of fresh air in a world where it seems as if we rarely look after one another like we used to.
I averaged 1-2 organ harvest anesthetics per year over the past seven years. Weeks after the organs are transplanted into the recipients, Life Connection of Ohio sends the provider an update on the recipient and thanks the provider for our assistance. I have kept all of these correspondences from Life Connection, as they are an occasional reminder to press on when pressure mounts and weariness kicks in.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
The most difficult aspect of pediatric anesthesia tends to be the mental strain required to practice in our field. It tends to be very fast paced, and it requires quick real-time assessments of physiology and discernment on when and how to intervene on behalf of the patient.
Anesthesia is generally very safe, yet most patients fear anesthesia more than their actual surgery. Providing reassurance to unfamiliar patients and their families during a relatively brief perioperative meeting is always challenging.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of being a provider?
- I am active in my spiritual life and faith walk. I realize that I am built for this, crafted for this calling and wired for this work.
- I have multiple outlets, like my love of sports and travel, which help me to decompress and relieve stress.
- My family and friends help me stay grounded, and they are always there when I need to talk or get my mind off of work.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised right here in Akron. I attended Akron Public Schools through 8th grade. I completed my first 2 years of high school as a boarding student at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, but I am a proud graduate of Archbishop Hoban High School.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
- KeYanna: My wife of almost 13 years has her master’s degree in social work from Case Western and serves as a Licensed Independent Social Worker
- Brandon, Jr: My 8-year-old son (third grade)
- Brielle: My 5-year-old daughter (first grade)
What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
In 2002, my senior year of college, I won an award called the Academic Heisman Award. It is called the William V. Campbell Trophy today, but was formally called the Vincent dePaul Draddy Trophy at the time. It is awarded to the American college football senior with the best combination of academics, community service and on-field performance. In the 30- year history of the award, I am the only non-division one player to win it thus far.
What’s one thing on your bucket list?
I hope to visit all 50 states and every continent in my lifetime. I have about 15 states left, and I still have some work to do with respect to my international travel.
What’s your favorite quote?
I have two:
“Study while others are sleeping. Decide while others are delaying. Prepare while others are daydreaming. Begin while others are procrastinating. Work while others are wishing. Save while others are wasting. Listen while others are talking. Smile while others are frowning. Persist while others are quitting.” – William Ward
“I choose to live by choice and not by chance; to make adjustments and not excuses; to be useful and not used; to listen to my inner voice and not the random opinions of others. I choose self-esteem and not self pity.” – Unknown