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A Closer Look: Dr. Ken Cheyne


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Where are you from originally?

I actually was born at Iowa Methodist (Medical Center) while my dad was going to Drake (University), but I grew up in Webster City, and that’s where I consider to be my hometown.

How did you decide to become a doctor?

It kind of was a slow process. I had gone to college at the University of Iowa thinking I was either going to become a high school science teacher or maybe a physician. There were no other health-care professionals in my family. I ended up doing pretty well in the sciences. A guy down the hall wanted to volunteer at University (of Iowa) Hospitals (and Clinics) and wanted me to go with him. He ended up not liking it; I ended up liking it a lot. So it all kind of came together and I ended up doing medicine.

Have you always had a passion for pediatrics?

I have a huge passion for it. My subspecialty is adolescent medicine, so I take care of people who are middle school, high school, early college age. It’s an exciting time; people go through lots of changes and can make lots of positive impacts on their health as they choose positive changes.

Have you been at other hospitals?

After my fellowship, I was in Dubuque in private practice for 10 years. I did adolescent medicine there at Medical Associates, and then I came to Des Moines 15 years ago.

What’s most exciting for you about becoming medical director?

There are tons and tons of great people here, and they all try to provide really high-quality care. One of my main jobs is to work on making sure that quality continues to improve. There’s a great team of people here, and working with them to improve the quality even higher than where it is now I think is going to be a fun challenge.

Have you worked with (incoming President and Chief Operating Officer) David Stark before?

Indirectly. He’s a wonderful guy and we’re really excited that he’s coming back to Blank. I think it’s a win-win situation for him (and Blank) to have all these skills and come back here.

Is it typical for medical directors to continue practicing in their specialty?

Some do and some don’t. For me, it’s really important. I have a huge passion for adolescent medicine and I really enjoy doing that. I think it also helps that when you’re the medical director and you also work in the clinical setting. So when you ask people to make changes you’re asking yourself to do those things as well, and I think that’s really, really important.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I think the two words that might describe my leadership style are collaborative and empowering. I try to get people who are important in any decision to the table. I think it’s really important for us to grow future leaders and help people develop their skills within themselves. Before I did this, I was the residency director here at Blank for 10 years, so that was a great thing to be able to empower young physicians to be highly successful in their careers.

What was your first paying job?

The first paying job I had early on was mowing lawns in the neighborhood. And then my father was really into fast-pitch softball, so I mowed the softball field, marked the lines and took tickets.

What hobbies do you have?

I really am a movie buff; I love to go to movies and I love to read. And even though it doesn’t look it, I like to bike. I need to do that more. Those are the main things I like to do, and hang out with friends and family.

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