Top Docs 2011

Found in Translation

Rosemary Hyun uses multinational skills and compassion to make a difference in young lives

One of the things Rosemary Hyun enjoys most about her job is connecting with young patients, especially those who are first-generation Americans. The Korea native understands the unique trials of growing up in one country with parents who were raised in the traditions of another.

It’s this ability to relate and communicate that has helped make her the leading vote-getter among all pediatricians in the Top Docs survey.

“I lived it, so of course I’m more sympathetic,” she says. “And I think the families know that I did grow up in the old country, so maybe I draw more of that population.”

Hyun’s family emigrated from Korea to Los Angeles by way of Brazil when she was 13 years old. She arrived in the United States with no grasp of English, but quickly learned Spanish since she already knew Portuguese, which has helped her communicate with her Hispanic patients.

After graduation from medical school in Puerto Rico, Hyun did her residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where she met her future husband, Dr. Kenneth Misch, who grew up in Las Vegas. The two are now partners at St. Rose Pediatrics (along with Dr. Heath Hodapp) and live in Henderson with their two teenage sons.

Hyun, who is often praised by patients for her upbeat personality, began her medical career in family practice but switched to general pediatrics when she had difficulties dealing with the issues faced by older patients.

“I thought I wanted to take care of the whole family,” she says. “But it was very hard for me to deal with end of life. It takes a very special person. So I then concentrated on the beginning of life, where I feel like we can do so much preventative care and have hope and make a big difference.”

A report issued earlier this month ranked Nevada last in the nation in child health care, with more than 17 percent of children being uninsured, but Hyun is dedicated to changing that. As president of the Nevada Children’s Medical Center Foundation, she is spearheading the effort to bring a children’s hospital to the Valley. The group recently raised $200,000 for a feasibility study and is in talks with the city of Las Vegas about donating the land.

“We don’t want to compete with what services are already available,” she says. “However, we are the only city in America with a population of 2 million that does not have a freestanding children’s hospital.”

After 17 years in Southern Nevada, Hyun has seen many of her patients grow up and bring their own children to her for care. For her, it is the most telling endorsement of her work.

“We’ve always treated our patients,” she says, “like they were our own children. … If you ask in the proper fashion, they will tell you everything. And if they feel that you are a confidential, sympathetic listener, they’re just aching to tell what’s in their hearts.”

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