Meet Dr. Stephen Kennedy: Pediatric Hospitalist and Asian American Inspiration

Stephen Kennedy, M.D., shares about his life as a pediatric hospitalist and how his own family showed him anything is possible with a little hard work and dedication.

Stephen Kennedy, M.D.
Published in Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - Spring 2023

May is a time to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month and honor this group of individuals and their many achievements. That includes celebrating Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital staff members, such as Stephen Kennedy, M.D., who are making a difference in the community and for patients. Kennedy shares more about his life as a pediatric hospitalist and how his own family showed him anything is possible with a little hard work and dedication.

What is a typical day like for you at the hospital?

As a pediatric hospitalist, I work on the inpatient units taking care of patients admitted to the hospital for a variety of reasons. We are a 24/7 service, so my typical day varies between working day and night shifts. During the daytime, our mornings consist of rounding on patients in the hospital to discuss their condition and develop care plans. Afternoons are spent following up on test results, consultant recommendations, checking on patient progress and discharge planning. The overnight work typically consists of admitting new patients to the hospital inpatient units from the Emergency Center or outside hospitals.

One of my favorite parts to my job is that our team gets to work with and participate in the teaching and training of pediatric residents. In addition to clinical duties, I am also the director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Pediatric Hospitalist Programs, where I oversee the operations of our hospitalist programs at our hospital, as well as at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and HCA Florida Brandon Hospital.

What is your favorite thing about working at Johns Hopkins All Children’s?

My favorite part of working at the hospital is the people I get to work with every day. I always feel energized when surrounded by the people here who are genuinely kind and working together toward making a positive impact on the lives of others.

What’s something most people might not know about you?

Sports have always been a fun part of my life since I was a child, whether as a fan, as a coach for my son’s teams, or as a wannabe athlete myself. And while I have no musical talent whatsoever, I am an avid music lover. I like just about all genres and really enjoy going to see live music. In particular, I’m a lifelong fan of the ’90s band, Pearl Jam, and have been known to travel throughout the country to watch them tour. 

Why did you choose a career in medicine?

Science and math have always drawn my interest since I was very young. I really enjoy things that involve teamwork, problem solving, teaching and helping others. Medicine, and in particular pediatrics, combined those interests to provide me with a career that has been so rewarding and full of lifelong learning.

Who is an Asian American or Pacific Islander you admire or people should learn more about?

Cliché, but easy answer, my mother. She was an immigrant from South Korea who could barely speak English when she arrived in the United States over 45 years ago. Through years of hard work, a positive mindset and determination, she learned how to read, write and speak English very well. She has become a proud U.S. citizen and learned a trade to get a job. Over the years, she has worked her way up to becoming an Asian American business owner with her own set of employees. She has always set an example that anything is achievable in life if you put your mind to it.