I would say it’s because I told my 4th grade teacher that I wanted to be a pediatrician and I’m too hard headed to admit that I’m wrong but that might over-simplified.
That would also discredit the fact that I told my mom one time that I could never be a pediatrician because I couldn’t deal with babies screaming all the time.
In reality, my goals and reasons for doing medicine and pediatrics have changed over time and I’d like to walk you along that journey to give you an idea.
This is complete transparency so no judging…If you plan to judge, just move on. Seriously, quit reading.
Junior High and High School
I’m smart. Smart people do things like being a doctor or lawyer. DAs don’t make any money and I’m not sure I could defend people for murder that I know are guilty (I read too many John Grisham books). So I guess being a doctor makes sense. I followed a radiologist for a day so I figured, why not radiology? They used to be listed as big wage earners and low stress (not even sure if that’s true anymore-haven’t had a reason to look in a while). I didn’t think about it at the time but when I followed the radiology we spent 90% of the day locked away in a dark room staring at some pictures (on an old fashioned light board-this was 15 years ago).
I had a great opportunity to work as an intern in the Children’s Ministry at the church I attended. I would love to say that I applied to the job because I liked kids a whole lot but it actually had a little more to do with the fact that it paid $1000/month and really only required me to work 2 days a week. I had to be available to build sets and brainstorm and do whatever else my boss might randomly ask during the week but the calls were pretty infrequent. What happened during that time is that I happened to really grow to like kids. I developed skills in interacting with them that I would’ve otherwise never had. I walked them through family issues and other problems, learning along the way that I really did want to work with kids. I was still pre-med and convinced that medicine was right for me so it seemed pretty natural that Pediatrics was the way to go.
I loved just about every rotation I did in medical school. I liked OB, especially delivering babies but couldn’t really imagine myself doing pelvic exams all day every day. I liked surgery but wasn’t really all that great at it. I loved psychiatry and would have strongly considered it but tucked away at the back end of my 3rd year was my pediatrics rotation. I had saved it till the end of all the primary rotations so that I could experience everything else with an open mind (and have something to look forward to).
For the first time in pediatrics, I was able to sit alongside a sick child and scared family and see what it takes to interact with them in a way that shows you are capable but sad that they are experiencing what they are going through. (Ok, so most of that was by observation since you really don’t know much of anything as a 3rd year medical student but still.) So, at this point my mind was set.
I was sure when I entered residency that I needed something a little more “exciting” than general pediatrics but I also wanted to do something where I had a close relationship with my patients. I was convinced that Pediatric Oncology was the right fit for me. I was prepped to start extra training when I completed residency and excited about some research I was involved in about ALL and Downs syndrome. You can read more about it here (but why would you want to?).
Plans change and I was recruited to join on in the practice of my old pediatrician in Abilene. Of course, I was never going to do that but if any of you know my old partners, you know that they can be particularly persuasive. I was able to see just how interesting general pediatrics could be and learned the joy of walking through those steps with parents as they learn how to be, well, parents.
I love walking into a room where mom has a list of questions (no, really). What that means is that I am going to get to provide relevant answer and suggestions that are important to that family right then. I can talk for about 10 minutes straight at each check-up with my own advice but who cares? There are a few things that I make sure and cover but those things pale in comparison to what concerns are on my parents’ minds.
Now, I have 3 children all under age 5 so I’ve been through a lot of my own parenting journey. I know the fears associated with a hard fall and a large, rapidly expanding goose egg. I know the joys of celebrating that first poop in the potty. I also know how confusing all the different advice you can get out there can be. There are so many messages out there. You receive wanted (and un-wanted) advice from the internet, news, books, friends and family (am I leaving anyone out?). Often the advice is directly contradictory.
So, where do you go? I hope you would turn to me. Why? Because that’s my reason for doing pediatrics now.
I want to help you go through their own journey and make the best decisions for your family.
I want to provide solid evidence-based advice.
When there are multiple right answers (there often are), I want help you gather your information and let you decide.