Faculty Feature Kevin O’Bryan

Kevin O’Bryan grew up in the suburbs of Detroit as the oldest of three children.  His father was an engineer and deemed Mr. Safety by the family.  The home had more smoke detectors than any house should ever have.  Beeping from a low battery was a family activity with children positioned around the house to attempt to identify which of the 23 smoke and carbon dioxide detectors was beeping.  Stop watches were also included because frequently more than one device was beeping simultaneously.  It was a real family bonding exercise.  Continuing in that theme, it was common to be sent to sleep overs with a battery powered smoke detector.  Fortunately, if mom did the drop-off, the smoke detectors would be “forgotten” in the car.

His mom was a fifth grade science teacher through out childhood and then an elementary school principal later.  She instilled the love of teaching and the people skills, also known as the ability to manage parents.  She agrees that the kids are the easy part of the job, be it teaching or being a pediatrician.

Growing up, O’Bryan played soccer and was an on the swim team from 6 years old until becoming the coach for eight years.  Other jobs included lifeguarding and being a soccer referee.  Supervising children in one form or another was a common theme as well as building technology into the jobs like making a database for tracking swimmers times and automating things like personal best awards.

O’Bryan went to the University of Michigan for undergrad and studied biomedical engineering after meandering through every department in the school of engineering.  Other highlighted degree interest included naval architecture and marine design, packaging engineering and traffic engineering.  Ultimately, O’Bryan settled on medical school and a degree that at least was more aligned with that path.  Medical school was also at University of Michigan, and then he came to St. Louis Children’s for Pediatrics Residency.  In medical school and residency, the same Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was used, so the constructive feedback of how the EMR should work started to flow in the first month of residency.  Paul Hmiel caught wind and brought him to the Children’s Clinical Decision Support committee. O’Bryan has attended every committee meeting to this day. 

This opened the door to O’Bryan pursuing clinical informatics as his fellowship training.  While serving as a pediatric chief resident, a program in clinical informatics started at WashU.  O’Bryan completed the two-year fellowship in 2016 and has held leadership roles in clinical informatics at SLCH, BJC and WashU Pediatrics since then.  The simplest way to explain the role is that he works on all the things that happen between the computer and humans that use the computer.  Examples include everything from how the screens looks, to data reports, to the safety features of the computer systems to protect patients.

Today, O’Bryan lives in the Botanical Heights neighborhood with his husband who is also a Kevin.  This has made writing in third person very comfortable.  They have two dogs, a 13-year-old Puggle named Buddy, who’s a bit of a grumpy old man, and Riley, who is a 5-year-old Bernese Mountain dog that is a permanent puppy.  Cooking has become a passion over the pandemic (almost exclusively recipes from America’s Test Kitchen on PBS).  They’ve also taken on projects, including building their garage from the ground up themselves and learning to wire a hot tub.  Their other primary passion is travel to Europe which has been dampened by COVID but will hopefully resume soon.

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