HumAnes of UCLA: K. Elliott Higgins, MD

Introducing Dr. Elliott Higgins, Regional and Acute Pain Anesthesiologist

Kenneth Higgins, MD with his family

December 16, 2022

First off, welcome to UCLA and to DAPM! Where were you before this? Where did you train?
Thanks! It's a pleasure to be here. I trained at UCSF for my residency training and then completed my regional anesthesia and acute pain fellowship training at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Prior to joining the faculty here at UCLA, I was on the faculty at the University of Vermont.

What made you pick anesthesia for your specialty?
A few things initially drew me to anesthesia. I loved the idea of focusing my attention exclusively on one or a small handful of patients at any given time. Also, as a jazz musician, I was enthralled with the idea of a field that relied on a core foundation of basic principles that, once mastered, facilitated a degree of adaptability that to me is akin to improvisation. Almost a decade after beginning my training, I still am so happy and in no small part because of those very things that drew me to anesthesia in the first place!

Do you have any specific interests within anesthesia or academic medicine?
I do! Clinically I consider myself a regionalist and acute pain specialist. To me, acute pain is all about trying to attenuate the development of chronic pain and I'm quite passionate about this area of clinical practice. I am also very interested in facilitating same-day management of surgery by leaning into regional anesthesia. One specific area of interest of mine is short acting spinals and how to best employ them to guarantee ambulatory management.
Perhaps my greatest professional passions, though, lay within the overlapping borders of education, provider satisfaction, diversity/equity/inclusion efforts and provider psychological safety. To me, our efforts as academicians within these intertwined domains enhance both provider well-being and patient safety.

What have you enjoyed about living in Los Angeles compared to where you were before?
My husband and I have been lucky to live in some great places. We met in Chicago in undergrad and since have lived in Connecticut/New York, San Francisco, New Hampshire, San Diego, Vermont and now here. Most of those moves were in coordination with my training. LA is amazing and is our favorite place we have ever lived. We love it for its diversity, incredible access to great food and other urban delights, and absolutely unparalleled access to pretty awe-inspiring nature for a city of this size. Having lived in some pretty cold places, I personally adore how I can go for a jog essentially whenever I want.

What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
Outside work I enjoy spending as much time in the sun as I can being active, chasing good food with my husband and friends, and enjoying music both as a listener and musician.

Dr. Higgins playing the ukelele

Do you have any special talents?
I play bass, guitar, and ukulele. I used to gig professionally as a bass player in Chicago in a rock band that toured, in pits for musical theater productions and in blues/jazz clubs. These days I mostly play the ukulele. I have played music for as long as I can remember having memories... I started my formal training in grade school.

What did you do over your last break?
We travelled home for Thanksgiving. My family adores good food and cooking, so Thanksgiving is always a priority of ours.

What are your plans for your next vacation?
Hawaii! We have not been since the pandemic but before 2020 would go annually for the Ukulele Festival of Hawaii. We are hoping to go this winter/spring.

Do you have any pets?
We have a Maltese-Poodle named Monk who we rescued when I was an intern at UCSF. He is absolutely hilarious and a great dog.