If there’s one trait that defines Dr. Raj Srinivasan, it’s his deep curiosity. As a college student he was fascinated by the intersection of technology and biology and earned a master of science in bioengineering. While the science was interesting, the amount of lab time the subject required left little time for helping people face to face. He determined that medicine was a better fit.
“It was always about helping and trying to address and fix problems,” he said. “That’s what engineers do. But in biology and medicine, it’s even more tangible. You can see the impact you have every day.”
Dr. Raj’s next step was the University of Illinois, where he earned a doctor of medicine. After a residency in internal medicine, he completed a fellowship in allergy and immunology at the University of Rochester in New York. The ability to treat children and adults, and the opportunity to help patients with tangible symptoms, attracted him to the specialty. Allergy also requires knowing a patient well, and understanding who they are and what they do.
“Do they like to camp, run, or work in a warehouse? To know those things you have to spend time and talk with them, and this makes a huge difference,” he said.
After completing his fellowship, Dr. Raj moved to Vancouver, where he founded Vancouver Clinic’s Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Department in 2007. Including an important clinical service like allergy and asthma in a multispecialty clinic allows care to be fully integrated. Clinic allergists can discuss cases, share vital medical information, and consult with in-house pulmonologists, dermatologists, and otolaryngologists—and vice versa.
“This type of communication is really key to delivering comprehensive, holistic care,” Dr. Raj said.
In addition to providing seamless care, Dr. Raj was adamant about building a practice that provides treatment based on solid medical evidence.
His other passion that he brings to the department is education. Dr. Raj’s own son was diagnosed with asthma as an infant, an experience that gave him insight into the challenges parents face in taking care of their sick kids, and the worry they feel over whether or not they are doing the right thing. Several times while receiving care for his son, key information he or his wife should have received (such as how to use an inhaler) was never explained. It just fell through the cracks. While his son was in highly experienced hands, most parents don’t have the luxury of a deep well of knowledge about their child’s illness.
When working with patients and families, Dr. Raj takes the time to talk through information—whether it’s explaining complicated immunology or the underlying inflammation. He also works with patients to set short- and long-term goals for handling chronic concerns, and makes sure that patients know everything they need to about how to prevent issues.
“Even though people in medicine might see something all the time, for the patient it’s often their first experience,” he said. “My approach is to be as motivated, interested, and focused as they are, because it’s new to them, and the main thing that’s going on in their lives in the moment. It’s about empowering them with knowledge and tools.”
True to form, Dr. Raj is always adding new tools and information to his toolkit. When he’s not spending time hiking and biking with his family, or watching his kids’ soccer and basketball games, you can find him learning and improving his skills.
“It doesn’t have to be directly related to what I do,” he said. “I think that’s how you stay fresh. Being curious about things, whether it’s people or a subject, goes a long way in staying up to date.”