Updated: Sep 1, 2019
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. Irastorza chose the field of Pediatrics and why Pediatrics is a great field for women.
I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician since I was about 4 years old. I had an amazing pediatrician who I looked up to and admired when I was little. She was kind and caring. She let me play with her stethoscope and always had endless rolls of stickers in her office (which likely persuaded me a little bit too). My parents got me my first toy doctor kit and even have photographic evidence of me sharing with my preschool class about why I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. From then on, I was destined for a career in medicine.
I went into medical school knowing pediatrics was my field of choice and every rotation during my third and fourth year really solidified that for me. I did keep an open mind, but after spending more than half of my rotations with adults, I knew I did not want to be talking about hypertension and type 2 diabetes for the rest of my life. I would much rather be taking care of acute illnesses or talking about developmental milestones. Also, who doesn’t love playing with kids all day? Okay – I don’t really play with kids all day, but some days it does feel like that! During my residency interviews, the children’s hospitals were always so much prettier and full of life compared to the adult hospitals where the walls were muted and dull.
Now that I have completed residency and have practiced in a few different areas, I can say I am 110% glad I stayed the course in pediatrics. Below are my top reasons why I love the field so much!
1. Your patients get better.
In pediatrics, when kids get sick they are more than likely always going to get better. You get to figure out what is wrong and most of the time be able to fix the problem. Even the ones with chronic illnesses, you can get them feeling better soon and they bounce back pretty easily. This is not saying that your patients will never pass away or not get better, but the majority of the time you feel like a superhero because you diagnosed and fixed that otitis media!
2. Preventative medicine is key and you can make a huge impact in their lives.
This is the time in a person’s life where you can make a BIG difference. You get to help parents guide their children to be healthy little people. You get to talk about vaccines and protect them from eradicated illnesses and cancer. You get to talk about nutrition and exercise and help prevent the obesity epidemic. You get to counsel on alcohol, drugs, and sex. You get to open their minds to a lot of knowledge about themselves and their changing bodies. You can help mold them to be happier and healthier individuals.
3. You get to bond with your patients and their families.
Just like I bonded with my pediatrician, you will get patients who will bond with you. You will get to see your newborn patients grow up to be young adults! How awesome is that?! Depending on how long you practice in one location, you may even start to have previous patients who have moved on to the adult world bring their kids to you. You can develop generations of patients and have that special connection that you may not get in other specialties.
4. You get to see a lot of cool pathology.
All those genetic and congenital conditions you learned about in medical school, you will see in your training and in practice. Tetralogy of Fallot? Check! Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? For sure! Gastroschesis? You betcha! You will get a little bit of every subspecialty. You will get to see children who have undergone transplantation or who have had surgical malformations corrected. You will see children visiting or who have been adopted from other countries present with malaria or giardia. You will see accidental overdoses, foreign body ingestions, and even get the satisfaction of reducing a nursemaid’s elbow. You will see it all, trust me.
5. You have the opportunity to subspecialize in a lot of different fields.
Training in pediatrics also opens the door to subspecialize in a multitude of fields. You can either subspecialize straight out of residency, or decide to go back after practicing in general pediatrics for a few years. I am actually in my fellowship for pediatric gastroenterology (which is also the best field within pediatrics itself, but I am biased). There are 15 fellowship specialties you can apply for, so the possibilities are there!
6. There is variety in how you can practice.
Other than go into a subspecialty, the field of pediatrics is one where work can be flexible. There is opportunity to do strictly outpatient medicine and work in a clinic. Or, you can be a hospitalist and work only inpatient and do more procedures (lumbar punctures, intubations, central lines, etc). You can do a mixture of both and cover for your patients if they are hospitalized. You also can cover the newborn nursery and attend deliveries. You can do locums which allows you to travel and practice in different areas. It is really up to you!
7. YOU GET TO PLAY WITH KIDS ALL DAY!
Seriously, what is better than snuggling with a cute 2 month old infant, or drawing with your 5 year old patient? You get to dress up for the holidays and give out stickers to patients. You get to pet the therapy dogs that make their rounds in the hospital and attend all the fun events they put on during the year. You get to sing along to Disney music and give high fives and fist bumps all day long! There is nothing more satisfying than having your patients say thank you and give you the biggest hug as they walk out of your office smiling.