Why Neonatology?

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering which specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Kate chose neonatology and why it is a great field.

I've known that I wanted to be a doctor for my entire life. No, really- my 8th grade yearbook says “future profession: physician.”

After years of working towards a career in pediatrics, my third year rotation in obstetrics and gynecology gave me pause. I loved the atmosphere of the delivery room and wondered if it could be the specialty for me.


Eventually, after careful thought and consideration, I realized that my heart was more with the neonate in the delivery room than the mother… and a career in Neonatology was born.


{pun absolutely intended!}


Neonatology is a subspecialty of Pediatrics, with board certification maintained by the American Board of Pediatrics. 


To become a Neonatologist, one must:


1. Complete three years of pediatric residency training


2. Pass the Pediatrics board certification exam


3. Complete three years of neonatology fellowship training


4. Pass the Neonatal-Perinatal board certification exam


For anyone considering if Neonatology is the right specialty for you, it might be if you love:

1. Babies

Seriously, the whole specialty is devoted to the care of babies. Almost all of my patients are under 12 months.


2. Physiology

The medicine always comes back to the physiology. Even when confronted with something we haven’t seen before, we rely on our knowledge of physiology to determine the next steps.


3. Working on a Multidisciplinary Team

The NICU loves teams. Seriously, we have attendings, fellows, residents, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, nutritionists, and social workers all on rounds… and then we have consultants from all specialties!


4. Mixture of Acuity

Some patients in the NICU need minute-to-minute care and some are premature babies in the “feeding and growing” stage. There is a nice mixture of babies requiring life support, premature infants, surgical diagnoses, genetic pathology, and babies who are convalescing from the diagnosis that put them in the NICU in the first place.


5. Procedures

As we get better at medicine, the procedures seem to decrease, but they’re still a fulfilling part of the job. Neonatologists do endotracheal intubations, place umbilical lines, place peripheral arterial lines, place chest tubes, and perform paracentesis.


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