Lily Kim, MD – Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Lily Kim’s path to sleep medicine arrived via a fellow resident who introduced the idea. Upon learning more about the subspecialty, Dr. Kim realized it encompassed everything she was looking for in her medical practice. She discovered that the supportive atmosphere and wide variety of faculty interests within the Sleep Division made Vanderbilt a great fit both for fellowship and as a faculty member. In her free time, Dr. Kim enjoys exploring Nashville’s coffee shops and traveling to pursue outdoor adventures with her family. 

Tell us about your background.

I’m originally from Texas. Vanderbilt is my first exposure to Tennessee. I did my undergrad at Baylor University. I then went to the University of Texas Galveston for medical school and residency. I was a resident in internal medicine for three years, and then I came to Vanderbilt for a fellowship in sleep medicine. Afterwards I was lucky enough to be offered a faculty position.

What piqued your interest in neurology, particularly sleep medicine?

I originally started with internal medicine because that was the area in medical school in which I felt most comfortable. There are many different specialties you can pursue from there, so it seemed like a nice broad field. Initially, I thought I would go into rheumatology because I wanted something more outpatient-based. I didn’t know very much about sleep medicine until my second year of residency, as there were not many faculty members doing sleep medicine where I did my residency. I was introduced to sleep medicine through a fellow resident one year above me, who had already matched. She told me more about sleep medicine, and I recognized that it was more in line with what I was looking for in terms of practice. For me it offers the best of both worlds—it is primarily outpatient work, and there is also a focus on interpreting tests. Based on that, I decided to apply for sleep medicine fellowships. I ended up matching to Vanderbilt, and I've been here ever since. 

What attracted you to Vanderbilt? 

The department in general is very supportive. The faculty members are very personable, so it was easy to discuss any questions or concerns during the training process. The different faculty members in the division also have a wide variety of interests. When I started my fellowship, I didn’t have too much exposure to the field, so it was an eye-opening experience to look at the different disorders encompassed in the division. Nashville also felt very similar to Austin [Texas], so there was not too dramatic of a change in environment. 

Do you plan to pursue a certain subspecialty within sleep medicine? 

For now I’m seeing a little of everything. I follow a lot of sleep apnea patients, hypersomnia, and narcolepsy. Other big areas with lots of patients coming in are those with insomnia and Restless Leg Syndrome. 

Who have been some important mentors for you along the way? 

Especially since starting on as faculty, a good mentor for me has been Dr. Malow. She’s always there for any questions or concerns, and is really good at looking at all the different angles of a situation. She also always has different ideas about what to consider regarding professional development.