Oct. 31, 2022

How job shadowing gave a physiatrist exactly the direction he needed

2022 Top 40 Under 40: Dr. Jordan Raugust, BSc'05, MD, PGME’14, clinical assistant professor, Cumming School of Medicine; president, Kinesis Medical Centre
Jordan Raugust
Jordan Raugust Avenue Magazine

When someone like 38-year-old Dr. Jordan Raugust, MD, writes his job title as “physiatrist,” do not assume it’s a typo. A specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, a physiatrist serves as a nerve, muscle and bone expert who treats injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. With a special interest in pediatrics, ultrasound-guided interventions, specialized testing for nerve disorders and the utilization of therapeutic exercise to treat specific conditions, Raugust is also an entrepreneur.

After starting out in practice with his close friend, Dr. Vishal Tulsi, BSc'05, MD, in 2015, the two were astonished by the need and decided to team up with three other doctors/co-founders to establish Calgary’s first group-based physiatry, Kinesis Medical Centre. Since the clinic opened in 2016, physicians at Kinesis have cared for more than 50,000 patients. With 23 examination rooms, the clinic is currently the largest of its kind in Canada.

What do you miss about student life?

Being immersed in a world where the primary expectation is that you learn new things every day. Now, I have to set aside time to learn new things, and there never seems to be enough time in a day to satiate my curiosity. In university, you easily have time to learn, hang out with friends, and do things that help with your physical and mental health, like exercise. As your career progresses, responsibilities keep getting piled on, so it can become a challenge to carve out the time necessary to do these life-giving things that I took for granted as a student.

Do you remember any classes that were standouts?

Athletic Therapy with Dr. D. Butterwick and Adapted Physical Activity with Dr. C. Emes.

Where did you hang out on campus?

In the Kinesiology area, working out, running on the track or playing basketball. I also remember studying in the old MacKimmie Library, where I’d go up to some random floor that had nothing of interest to me on the shelves and study… where there were absolutely no distractions!

What has been your biggest career highlight?

Opening Kinesis Medical Centre with my co-founders and subsequently seeing the clinic grow with new partners, colleagues, and approaches to patient care. I cannot imagine a better job, in terms of the type of work and people I work with or place that I get to work. It’s a dream job!

What is the most satisfying thing about your job?

I love working with people who have various disabilities or functional challenges because it is so fulfilling when I see them realize that they have the agency to make lifestyle changes that will improve their function and quality of life. For example, I spend a great deal of time finding ways to encourage people to exercise for general fitness or for therapeutic purposes. I often use the mantra: “Do something you love, with someone you love, in a place you love,” and then get into the specifics of what types of exercise they should do. When patients tell me they took this advice to heart and that it led them to build fitness, lose weight, have less pain and do things in life with greater ease, I find it very satisfying.

If you were to go back to school, what would you take?

The exact same thing! I am so happy with the path I took.

What do you wish you knew more about?

History. This is something I’ve enjoyed in my post-graduate years. I wish I had more time to study it at an academic level.

What are your biggest regrets?

I wish I would have spent more time learning in places outside of Alberta through a student exchange program. Once you enter the workforce and have a family it becomes much harder to leave for any extended time.

Any advice for students or new grads?

Don’t rush through university. Take classes that interest you, even if it extends the training for a little bit. Do a student-exchange program, but don’t go overseas just to be somewhere cool — base it on the place and also on the type of people you are going to interact with. To be able to create relationships with people with similar passions from all over the world will open up so many exciting opportunities and be such a blessing to the community you serve in your career.

A guilty pleasure?

So many … the most recent one is getting a “Hot Mess” chicken sandwich from Bros to Go in Brentwood, with waffle fries and an Annex Craft Cola. And, if that isn’t gluttonous enough, I just figured out today that I could get a second piece of chicken on the sandwich for a small additional fee. Heaven just became extra heavenly!

Why is mentorship important?

It’s vital because there are so many things that take multiple years to learn through experience. Mentors have the capacity to give a younger person a shortcut, as long as the mentees are willing to listen and — here’s the most important part — try to apply what they’ve learned.

When you are not working, what do you do? 

My wife and I have three young kids, so I enjoy spending time with them, especially outside, ideally in the mountains! I also like running, especially with my good friend, Steve, and I also enjoy playing basketball.

What are you reading these days?

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan and Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall.

Can you take me through one of your proudest aha! moments?

When I discovered physiatry. In my first week of medical school, our academic advisor told me about the specialty and set me up to shadow a pediatric physiatrist who, in turn, connected me with a physiatrist who worked with musculoskeletal issues. These two individuals were the perfect people for me to meet because their practices were exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

With files from Avenue Magazine.

Meet the entire 2022 cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honourees at Avenue Magazine.