Drew Yamada

Pediatrician

Bachelor of Arts, English, 1992

I assumed most of what you learned and how you made the diagnosis was from examining people. But 90% of it is from talking to them.

Finding a time convenient for Dr Drew Yamada to talk about his career is not the easiest thing.

“Sorry I couldn't take your call this evening, was in the middle of dying my daughter’s hair pink for crazy hair day at school,” he writes in an email.

And during the day he’s equally busy with children. Drew is a consultant pediatrician with offices in Lunenburg and Bedford, Nova Scotia. He’s usually booked, no surprise here, a couple of months in advance. But even with all of his patients, having a daughter of his own has taught him a lot.

“That’s pretty humbling for a guy who thought he knew what he was doing with kids.”

Learning is one of the things Drew likes best. “Every day I see something that I don’t know what it is, or I have never heard of. So I sit down and read articles. And that’s one of the best things about it. I definitely started to enjoy learning going to King’s.”

Another thing he learned at King’s he says is to consider the “breadth of interpretations and the options” for every patient. And so much of the information he gets in trying to form a diagnosis comes not from a stethoscope or lab tests but from conversation.

“I assumed most of what you learned and how you made the diagnosis was from examining people. But 90% of it is from talking to them.”

Drew’s path to the examining room from King’s is nothing if not unique. He had just started to play the guitar when he enrolled. His roommate had an “encyclopedic” knowledge of music and introduced him to a wide range of styles. Drew was hooked.

“King’s was really one of the only venues for independent music and theatre in the city at the time, and it was exciting to be a part of that,” he says.

After he graduated  Drew helped form the Halifax band The Super Friendz with fellow King’s students Matt Murphy (BJ ’94)  and Charles Austin (BAH ’93). The band recorded on Sloan’s label and toured with them.

“I got lucky playing music and travelling around. It gave me experiences other people didn’t have. In a weird way that gave me a work ethic, playing music.”

But when music led to dissatisfaction, Drew still had the work ethic and he went back to school. He had done some volunteer work with an organization called Leave Out Violence (LOVE) that helps at-risk youth. Dalhousie Medical School and pediatrics beckoned.

These days, music is still a part of his life, but kids who need his help, even if it is just a pink dye job, are Drew’s abiding passion. One of his greatest joys is seeing the resiliency of his young patients. He recalls working on a neonatal unit during his residency, working with premature babies who weighed just a pound. And then years later seeing them running around as six and seven year olds.

“I never thought about them growing up. But I had a part in it. It’s a neat thing.”

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