An Advocate for Kids’ Health

A pediatrician educates families in and out of the exam room.
By Ellen Nam
smiling woman in yellow

Lena van der List is a general pediatrician at the University of California, Davis. As a healthcare expert, van der List believes that her responsibility is to educate families, in and out of the exam room. Her focus is on preventive care for children. She spends the rest of her time educating patients on the podcast Kids Considered.

Van der List started her medical journey when she was a child. “I was led into medicine because my mom passed away with colon cancer when I was 11,” she told Your Hot Job. “That whole experience led me to think about how important the physician-patient relationship is.”

In medical school, at Western University of Health Sciences, van der List tried out different fields of medicine. “I think that medicine is really interesting because it spans such a huge age range, and we see a lot of different medical problems,” she says. But she ultimately chose pediatrics. “I just looked forward to going to my pediatrics rotation every day. When you find something you feel that way about, you really want to hold onto it. You want to find the thing that makes you excited.”

Van der List spends her work week finding different ways to help educate her patients. Three days a week, she sees patients in her exam room. Her appointments start at 8 a.m. She spends her other two workdays doing academic work, teaching up-and-coming physicians how to be better doctors. 

Van der List also works on the podcast Kids Considered, where she answers questions that her patients might have about medical topics. It’s important to her to be an advocate for her patients. She cohosts the podcast with Dean Blumberg, chief of the pediatric infectious diseases team at UC Davis. Van der List and Blumberg give parents the tools they need to understand their kids’ health.

“I started the podcast because there were certain topics that I was repeating over and over,” van der List says. “I thought it would be great if we had this all in one place. Now I can direct them to the podcast episode and show them where the data comes from.”

Van der List takes her patient care a step further, with legislative advocacy. In May, she went before the California State Legislature with her colleagues to support bills that affect children’s healthcare. “As a physician, you have the opportunity to impact children’s health not just in the exam room, but by using your voice.”