When you hear someone has not one, but two doctorates, you know they're deeply committed to their profession. Dr. Daniel Mulder, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), fits that description well. But impressively his story is not just one of academic achievements; it's a story of homecoming, community, and a drive to improve the lives of children with complex gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.
Daniel’s connection to Kingston runs deep. Growing up in Guelph, he often visited Kingston during summer vacations and holidays to spend time with his aunts, uncles, and grandparents. These visits left him with wonderful memories of the city, making it clear to those around him that he wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps and attend Queen's University. He did just that, completing his undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. at Queen's, and even meeting his wife at the university.
“It was always in the cards for me to return to Kingston,” he says. While completing a pediatric fellowship at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, his wife secured a job in Kingston, making it the ideal time to make the final step in his homecoming journey. “I often joke about my lack of bargaining power when interviewing with Queen’s and KHSC. I had no leverage; it was clear that I wanted to come back."
In July 2021, he achieved that goal and joined KHSC, filling a crucial need being appointed as a pediatric GI specialist, a role that had sat vacant for several years.
“Pediatric GI medicine is notably distinct from adult care. I’m fascinated with the diverse range of cases we encounter each day, from babies with allergies to toddlers with conditions like celiac disease.”
His specialty, however, lies in caring for teenagers with inflammatory bowel disease, a condition much more common than one would guess. More than 25 per cent of people seek medical care for some sort of GI issue before they turn 18 years old.
A distinctive aspect of his approach to his young patients is his ability to connect on their level.
“Kids respond well if we talk to them in a way they can understand, so I believe in speaking to my patients directly instead of just engaging with the parents. I really try to use simple language and speak to them like they are capable of understanding what is going on. I learned that from some other pediatricians here in Kingston.”
“I also like to make them feel more comfortable by using humor. I am a pretty goofy person and I like to joke around which is part of why I was drawn to pediatrics. I’ll talk to the stuffed animals they bring with them to appointments, or I try to get stuff wrong on purpose, if they are wearing a Mario shirt, I’ll say it’s Luigi just to get a laugh.”
He even wears specific pieces of clothing to lighten the mood.
“Fun socks are a calling card of pediatricians and a way to show personality to young patients without having to use words. As a doctor you must dress up to show you respect the profession, but my socks are a way to have a little fun and put my patients at ease. I’m becoming well known for it, last year my secretary bought me Grinch socks to wear during clinic appointments around the holidays.”