Spotlight: Bamidele Kammen, MD, Pediatric Radiologist

Bamidele Kammen, MDJuly 31, 2020

Bamidele Kammen, MD has watched and re-watched J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring with her family over the years. Something that always stood out to her was when Gandalf said to Frodo, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” In keeping with Gandalf’s insight, Dr. Kammen tries to be mindful, purposeful and intentional in her personal and professional life. She believes that although life can throw you curveballs, one must use these challenges as opportunities for growth.

For the past twenty years, Dr. Bamidele Kammen has served as an attending pediatric radiologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO). She enjoys and is invigorated by the collegiality that comes with being a member of a team that works together to solve problems and care for patients. Furthermore, she says that “the constant interactions with clinical colleagues who value our input is both gratifying and essential to how our team of radiologists function. The opportunity to utilize our imaging armamentarium to impact patient care, through expedient and accurate diagnosis, is always rewarding.” Dr. Kammen and her colleagues (radiologists, clinical colleagues, and department staff) take to heart the shared mission of providing the best possible care for patients at all costs. “The BCHO community is caring, compassionate, and incredibly dedicated,” says Dr. Kammen. “It has been an honor to work at BCHO for the past 20 years!”

The Fayemi family immigrated from Nigeria to the United States when Dr. Kammen was five years old. Her father, a pathologist enjoyed taking Dr. Kammen to his laboratory to develop science projects for her. Due to a horrific car accident, her mother was not able to start her obstetrics and gynecology practice as planned. After a year-long recovery, all the while raising three young children, Dr. Kammen’s mother decided to start over and pursue a radiology residency. Seeing her mother’s strength of character to start over again resonated with Dr. Kammen, and she recalls her mother saying, “if you are willing to put in the work nothing is impossible.”

Dr. Kammen grew up in Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York. She attended Woodlands Middle/High School a racially and economically diverse public school. She enjoyed the nurturing environment that allowed her to grow and develop her interests. She loved her teachers and felt their love in return. For example, “Toni Abramson, my English teacher, and field hockey coach found out one year that the school would not have a track coach. Toni did not know anything about track and field but she did not want her students deprived of having a track season, so she taught herself how to coach track.” In high school and college, Dr. Kammen was a sprinter in both indoor and outdoor track; she held the record in college for the 55-meter dash for a few years.

Dr. Kammen’s extracurricular activities did not stop at field hockey and track. During her senior year of high school, she attended a six-week science and engineering residency program in MIT called Mites (Minority Introduction To Engineering and Sciences). This program allowed her to experience different facets of engineering with other diverse aspiring young engineers. She met other like-minded people and developed friendships that still exist today.

Dr. Kammen attended Harvard College where she majored in electrical engineering and obtained her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She then completed a four-year residency in radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. During medical school, Dr. Diego Jaramillo’s impactful mentorship led Dr. Kammen to her passion - pediatric radiology. Dr. Kammen’s experience during her pediatric radiology rotation with Dr. Jaramillo was filled with time in the reading room, reviewing stimulating cases, supplemented by hours in the lab researching Cartilaginous Path of Physeal Fracture-Separations. Dr. Kammen was struck, not only by how passionate Dr. Jaramillo and the other pediatric radiologists in the department were about taking care of the children, but also by how much fun they had doing it. She expressed that “their enthusiasm and commitment were infectious as they taught me and all the other trainees.”

In 1999, Dr. Kammen came to UCSF to complete her pediatric radiology fellowship. She was ready to absorb all the knowledge her mentors in pediatric radiology had to offer, and with that knowledge, find her focus in pediatric radiology. She says “The wonderful thing about Pediatric Radiology is that there is breadth and depth in its practice. Pediatric radiologists treat children of all ages, from infants to young adults, and we examine them head to toe, with a diverse set of imaging modalities. Intellectually, the complexities and challenges that our cases provide is fun and stimulating. I chose this field because I knew the diversity of pathology would always keep me engrossed throughout my career. I have not been wrong; I have been practicing for 20 years and still see new or unusual pathologies daily”.

Her area of interests are pediatric musculoskeletal radiology and resident education. “I take an active role in resident education and developing curriculum for our trainees. During my radiology training I was especially fortunate to have excellent teachers. Like them, I too have found teaching fulfilling. As radiologists, we are invested in teaching learners at many levels from high school through radiology fellowship and the rewarding moments are when whatever concept you are teaching “clicks” and the trainee's eyes light up with understanding. I enjoy teaching real time during read outs, giving lectures and finding novel teaching methods.” Early on in her career she was awarded the Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award by the UCSF Radiology department.

Dr. Kammen’s advice to trainees is “know yourself and pursue a subspecialty that piques your interest and stokes your passions - a subspecialty that will allow you to be true to yourself. Absorb as much as you can; there is so much expertise, knowledge and depth at UCSF Radiology”.

“Of equal import is to develop your interests outside of radiology. Whatever you choose to pursue, work hard and play hard. And if you discover what you have chosen doesn’t meet your expectations, pivot and pursue your passion.”

Professionally, Dr. Kammen is pursuing what she is passionate about – pediatric radiology. Personally, she feels blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing daughters. Dr. Kammen and her family love traveling. Among destinations to which they have traveled are Senegal, Morocco, French Polynesia, and China. They enjoy the varied cuisines and with every trip, she brings back a little piece of culture by replicating the cuisine of the places they have visited - Nigerian, Senegalese, Indian and Moroccan dishes are some of their favorites.

By L. Delgado

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