Catching Up with Peter Akpunonu, MD

Peter Akpokunu, MD
2014 MTF DEI Medical Trainee Travel Award Recipient

Award Purpose: Travel to attend ACMT Annual Scientific Meeting
Award Amount: $1,500
Funding Year: 2014

About Dr. Akpunonu

We last caught up with 2014 MTF Travel Awardee, Dr. Peter Akpunonu, back in 2018. At that time he was an Assistant Professor of emergency medicine at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Dr. Akpunonu is now an Associate Professor of emergency medicine. He serves as the medical director for their toxicology service, medical director for their undersea and hyperbaric medicine service, and the site director for the radiation injury treatment network. He is also the medical director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center. 

Q: You were the recipient of the 2014 MTF Travel Award, which funded your ability to attend ACMT's Annual Scientific Meeting. What would you say was the most valuable takeaway from attending the conference?

A: What was a big takeaway for me was how diverse the professional opportunities are in toxicology. Prior to going to the meeting I assumed the only options were to work at a poison center or do in hospital consultations. At that meeting I learned that there were outpatient opportunities, addiction, industry consultation, and medicolegal consultation just to name a few. I also learned that toxicologists are excited for future toxicologists. Dr Michael Kosnett gave me some very kind words and made me feel quite welcome to the world of toxicology after receiving my award. 

Q. How have you stayed involved with the College since then?  

A:  I have been active in the scientific assemblies presenting research and interesting cases. I have also involved my residents and students in these presentations. The 2019 MTF Michael Shannon award winner was one of my residents. I have since had the pleasure of serving as Chair of the ACMT Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workgroup. We are working to advertise the diverse practice opportunities in medical toxicology, and increase the diversity of our members. 

Q: When we last caught up with you in 2018, you spoke then of a project to “improve minority engagement and overall engagement in medical toxicology”. Could you share any updates?

A:  With the help of the ACMT Executive Board we were able to add gender, race and ethnicity identifiers to our membership directory. With this information we are looking to help to tailor our recruitment approach and hope to build pipelines to encourage underrepresented individuals to pursue medical toxicology. We should strive to be at least as diverse as the primary specialities we recruit from and the patient population that we serve. This is important work and as such it takes time. We are off to a strong start. I encourage anyone that wants to assist to reach out. 

"What was a big takeaway for me was how diverse the professional opportunities are in toxicology...I learned that there were outpatient opportunities, addiction, industry consultation, and medicolegal consultation just to name a few."

- Peter Akpunonu, MD