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Why Pediatric Cardiology?

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what 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. Paro chose the field of pediatric cardiology and why pediatric cardiology is a great field for women.

I’ve always had the heart of a pediatrician. From an early age I was exposed to the childcare as my mom built a thriving preschool from the ground up in my childhood home. I worked as a teacher at the school in high school and was constantly involved in the day to day as this was our family business. Understanding how to make a kid comfortable as well as how to work within the parent/child relationship were skills I developed as an early age.

When I entered a career in medicine, it wasn’t surprising at all that I would go on to choose pediatrics. Surprisingly, during my time in medical school I briefly thought about going into surgery. I enjoyed the OR. I enjoyed thinking through a surgical case and how one should approach it. But ultimately decided a life of a surgeon was not for me.

Upon entering pediatric residency it became quite clear to me that I wanted to subspecialize. I felt the draw to really master an organ system and be the person patients could come to for that expertise. When I first encountered the vast world of pediatric cardiology, I immediately knew it was meant for me.  Congenital heart disease is complicated and fascinating. In pediatric cardiology, anatomy and physiology are everything. In order for us to adequately assess each defect we need a specialized skillset to understand and interpret the different modalities we use to characterize them. Electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, exercise testing, rhythm monitoring, CT, MRI, lung perfusions and cardiac catheterization help us answer those questions but are only useful when asking the right question.

Though we don’t perform surgery, we have an intricate understanding of what each surgical approach entails and what future concerns we will have to manage through the course of our patient’s life. In this way I could get that “surgery fix” that I enjoyed in medical school. Plus, interacting with pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons is incredibly inspiring as they are absolute miracle workers who carry a ridiculously heavy load every single day.

Though congenital heart disease is a big part of pediatric cardiology, there are many other facets. We see patients with electrophysiologic abnormalities, inherited or acquired myopathies, pulmonary vascular disease, hypercholesterolemia, the list goes on and on. It is a diverse and interesting field that keeps me on my toes. It is never boring.

But at the end of the day, what makes me love this field is being able to interact with children and families in my clinic room. Patients and their parents come to a visit with a pediatric cardiologist with a great deal of anxiety, no matter what the presenting concern is. I walk into every visit knowing this and I don’t take it lightly. Being able to relieve that anxiety by saying “Everything looks normal” is wonderful. On the reverse, walking a family through the path of an abnormal diagnosis is something I feel honored that I get to do. Being the person who they can look to for guidance and understanding, as well as being a shoulder to cry on, is incredibly humbling. It is these moments that truly make the practice of medicine sacred.

It is for all these reasons, and so many more, that the field of pediatric cardiology was the obvious choice for me. It is a young field full of innovation and constant improvements in care that result in patients living longer with a better quality of life. And for me, that is what being a doctor is all about!!

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