One-on-One with Quynh Doan

Dr. Quynh Doan

Dr. Quynh Doan first arrived in B.C. in 1998 for her UBC pediatrics residency interview. A Vietnamese immigrant who grew up in Montreal, she left home during the city’s infamous ice storm and saw Vancouver’s mild winter weather as a sign she was meant to be here.

As a clinician-scientist and associate professor in UBC’s Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Doan advocates for the power of research to transform health care delivery and champions inclusivity among research participants. In her leadership roles over the past decade, she has been working to bridge the worlds of research and care to improve emergency services for children.

Now, as the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean, Research, for BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), she leads the Institute’s mission to conduct discovery, translational and clinical research to benefit the health of children and their families.

We spoke with Dr. Doan about the importance of continuous learning and how she comes by her musical talent naturally.

Who inspires you and why?

My peers inspire me — both clinician-researchers and scientists. There’s nothing more important than learning, growing and continuing that cycle.

Peer mentorship was particularly important as I moved into leadership positions. Leadership skills aren’t a core part of our training as scientists. So, you build these skills by adopting models and behaviours that inspire, motivate and help people grow around you.

For you, what makes UBC different?

The campus is in a beautiful location and it’s a mix of old and new. To me that’s a metaphor for what we do as health care professionals and scientists — it’s a blend of tradition and history, but we’re also open to new ways of doing and learning. UBC is special because we’re not shy about changing, evolving and inviting opportunities for learning from around us.

Secret talent:

I don’t think it’s a secret anymore, but I grew up in a family of musicians. My grandfather was a composer and my dad was a famous singer in Vietnam. My sister and I were trained to sing as a duet, so we were performing on stages in Montreal all throughout our youth. I finally left that life when I got into medical school. While I still play the piano to ground myself sometimes, I reserve singing for the family karaoke parties.

What are your main goals or aspirations?

To me, one of the most important things is to make space to grow. In my life I need to know there are still things to learn and improve on.

At BCCHR, a research institute of the UBC Faculty of Medicine, we just completed a new strategic plan which aligns with the Faculty’s strategic plan. Our goal is to enhance how we integrate research into care for kids. Whether it’s preventing illness, dealing with illness or helping people cope with being ill, we need to ensure that clinical care informs the research and the research comes back and informs clinical care.

So, a lot of the new initiatives and priorities we’re setting up have to do with engagement, collaboration and partnership. Patients and families also need to be involved in deciding what we research and how that is integrated back into their lives.

Best piece of advice:

The advice I would give is, how you handle yourself in a conflict is more important than the outcome of the dispute. Feeling good about how you behaved and the energy you put out into the world is more important than to be recognized as being right.

First job:

At age 16, I became a sales associate and went on the road to home shows trying to sell dinner plates. I was the youngest associate and had the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds. That served me well in terms of learning to interact with strangers, to convey the message I needed to convey and to engage people in productive conversations.

How do you like to recharge?

I like to bake and then I like to eat what I bake. When I’m not at work I spend most of my time cooking, eating and working out. I ski, play squash, cycle and run — though it’s challenging, it’s important for me to stay active and healthy.

Favourite spot in B.C.

My favourite spots are close to home. I like to walk through UBC’s Point Grey campus and the various trails through Pacific Spirit Park. During the pandemic I discovered just how beautiful the paths around campus are — there are wide open spaces, stunning architecture, and little traffic so it’s safe and tranquil.

Published: June 2024