Updated: Feb 25
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. Tamara Gayle Blackwood chose Pediatric Hospitalist and why it is a great field.
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Some kids grew up going to soccer games on the weekends, movies, or maybe even the park. I had those experiences too, but I also grew up seeing hospital rounds play out in front of me on my Saturdays and Sundays. When my mom wanted a break from us kids and my dad was on call, off we went to work. I was like a sponge trying to soak in reading xrays, medical terminology, hearing about differential diagnoses. My dad is a pediatric intensivist and I knew early on I too wanted to be a pediatrician. I loved seeing the team of students, interns, residents, and fellows following behind my dad from room to room, and I thought with great exuberance that would be me one day. My dad was the only Black person in his division and I too wanted to stand out in a field I saw that needed my face and my voice. I saw the (mostly_ pleasantly surprised look on his families’ faces when he entered the room as the attending, and I knew that would be me one day.
I also knew early on I loved the variety of ages and stage pediatrics offered, but the intensity (no pun intended) of intensive care was not for me. I find it fascinating that in pediatrics you can take care of patient that can fit in the palm of your hand (a premature baby) to a towering adolescent heading off to college. All within the background of the gift that is children’s resilience in all things and the joy being able to take care of a patient and connect with their family in the process.
In medical school I went in with an open mind (or at least I tried to), while still feeling a larger tug towards pediatrics and ultimately inpatient medicine. Similar to many other pediatricians the only other specialty I considered was briefly Ob/Gyn. However, I remember subsequently getting in trouble during my Ob/Gyn rotation, because I was focusing too much on the baby after delivery instead of the mother.
I loved the diversity of inpatient medicine, and the ability to see sick kids get well in a relatively short amount of time so it seemed like the perfect fit for me. The career path includes medical school, a pediatric residency, and now a 2 year hospital medicine fellowship particularly for those interested in staying in academics, which I was.
The Top 5 Reasons why being a Pediatric Hospitalist is a must consider career.
1. It’s the hot new thing!
It really is new, pediatric hospital medicine is the newest pediatric subspecialty. That means the opportunity to be part of something beginning to blossom and grow into something truly unique. If you would like the opportunity to be pioneer this is for you. Speaking of opportunity, because it is a new specialty there are plenty of prospects in leadership, research, innovation, and more. If there is something that does not exist yet, it may be just because you have not arrived to get it started.
2. They say variety is the spice of life….
From being at deliveries to welcome newborn into the world, rounding on the pediatric wards, helping services like orthopedics or general surgery in the co-management of their patients, helping with pediatric consults in an adult emergency room, and more there are so many ways your job can look in pediatric hospital medicine. Why not be in a specialty that will have a variety of clinical situations and experiences.
3. The intrigue of modern-day detective work is real.
As a pediatric hospitalist, in some situations you might have to rely more on your physical exam skills and history taking with the parents to come up with a diagnosis. As you might guess, many of your patients are not able to talk to you. You have to use all of your training and skills in a more nuanced way to discover the story behind your patients.
4. The origin of doctor is from the latin word for teacher.
As a pediatric hospitalist I love getting to spend so much time educating and it is one of the best parts of the job. From the patients and families prior to discharge to the variety of learners on my team, it feels like always being a knowledge fairy sprinkling education everywhere. There is so much power in being able to share information that could affect the lifetime of your young patents and inspire future pediatricians along the way. Whether it is discussing asthma care, vaccines, safe sleep, mental health, and more, there are so many topic areas you become well versed in.
5. Touchdown, the team sport aspect is hard to beat.
While I was never particularly good at any particular team sport I found something so awe inspiring about being part of something that is bigger than yourself. Pediatric hospital medicine involves being part of the biggest team I’ve been a part of. There is not only the medical team, which often consists of the medical students, interns, residents, fellows, the patient, and family, but there is also the subspecialists who you might be coordinating with for the patient’s care, social workers, case managers, dieticians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and more. It is your job as the team captain to not only run the plays, but to keep the team working together for the common goal.
There is also the diversity in pathology and the patient stories and experiences you will have. Lastly it did not make the list because it might vary depending on where you work, but there is definitely some schedule flexibility that also makes this career unique.
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