31 January 2010


i just finished my four weeks of inpatient pediatrics. the first few days helped me realize that pediatrics is not my life's path.

somewhere in the middle of the month, one of the other teams' residents mentioned to my resident that she was about to go admit a 'crappy patient.' it didn't register for me until a few minutes later that she used the adjective 'crappy' to describe her newest admit. understandably, crap is not a foreign substance to a children's hospital, so this is not surprising. but in this case, the resident was talking about the patient being crappy - an undesirable patient. the patient had a chromosomal abnormality, present from conception, that caused a constellation of medical problems.

it hit me later that day why pediatrics wasn't appealing to me. on inpatient pediatrics, all of our patients were as the residents' newest admit - complicated and suffering some type of long-term incurable illness - or incredibly uncomplicated. by uncomplicated i mean: has a cold and can't eat, so has to be admitted for IV fluids and will go home the next day. obviously this is a gross generalization, but surprisingly accurate.

there's a list of other things that don't appeal to me about pediatrics: working with 75% female residents, dealing with primarily non-verbal/non-history-giving patients, dealing with parents, being out-of-touch with adult medicine, and calculating medicine/fluid/calories based on weight of individual patients among others. then there's the list of illnesses common in a pediatric population, many of which have some connection to embryology and/or genetics (neither of which hold my interest much).

after all is said and done, i also realized about myself - surprisingly - that i don't like taking care of kids medically. i've always been someone who is passionate about understanding people and helping others understand things. enter - pediatrics. it's impossible to explain to a 5-year-old why it's necessary to place stitches on her lacerated chin. impossible. i tried. don't get me wrong - i don't expect every patient i ever have to understand. it's just going to be a much more plausible task in a 30 yr old vs a 3 yr old.

nonetheless, pediatrics has taught me loads about myself and how i relate to people of different ages. prior to starting pediatrics, i was certain it was my career path. halfway through, i'm certain it's not. disorienting? yes. exciting? double-yes. can't wait to see how much more 3rd year will shape my own self-awareness.

1 comment:

Mark and April Skinner said...

Interestingly enough, I didn't really like peds much in my clinicals. I like taking care of babies, but not kids. Starting an IV on a baby is infinitely easier than starting an IV on a 2-year-old. Or an 8-year-old. Or ... most people, for that matter. (Lots of people would disagree with me here, but I've done both. Babies are easier.)

They always say that it takes a really special kind of person to do NICU - but I disagree. I think it takes a special kind of person to do ANY area of the medical field (ie - I detest taking care of most adults and most adult problems), and I believe that God equips different people to take care of different people :)

I wish you luck and hope you have fun as you decide what you DO want to do!

Also - I haven't seen you in FOREVER! I know your schedule is terrible - but maybe we could get together sometime?