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Why Pulmonary Critical Care?

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. Chandrasekaran chose the field of Pulmonary/Critical Care and why Pulmonary/Critical Care is a great field.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a kid, this answer changes every other day or week or month. As an adult in med school, for me this answer never changed. During medical school (3rd and 4th year) you become exposed to different rotations, 3rd year being the core and 4th year being the electives. I had the opportunity to do an ICU rotation as a 4th year, and I was hooked. In fact I completed another ICU rotation as a 4th year as well. The acuity of the problems, the interaction with the patient families, the adrenaline, the thrill, the procedures, the hands on, all of it really inspired and motivated me. In the ICU I felt all the doctors really knew the pathophysiology behind what was happening to each patient, which helped guide treatment and really put everything we have learned from medical school together.

Going into residency I had it in my mind that I wanted to specialize in critical care, which is how I ended up at UPMC a prestigious institution for Critical care. However, after my first pulmonary rotation, I was once again hooked. I loved learning the anatomy of the lungs integrated with the heart and everything in-between. I appreciated the lifestyle of pulmonary with critical care, how the fields complemented one another in terms of vent management and patient management. Immediately I realized I wanted to do pulmonary/critical care and not just critical care. Going through residency through my 6 critical care rotations and 2 pulmonary rotations I was able to solidify my option without a doubt. I enjoy the idea of shift work, working hard in the ICU, saving lives in the now in the moment, and being able to do pulmonary consults/outpatient clinic. It’s like best of both worlds to me and I can honestly not see myself doing anything else.

5 Reasons You Should Consider Pulmonary/Critical Care

1. Saving patients lives in the NOW.

Many fields are preventative or deal with chronic issues, which is absolutely important. However when you have a dying patient in your hands, aka in the ICU… its now or never. The adrenaline rush and the gratifying feeling of saving a life never gets old.

2. Procedures

hands on procedures from central lines, to intubations never get old.

3. Shift work.

Always a plus being a woman in medicine to make time for both family and career.

4. Outpatient +Inpatient.

You want inpatient floors, there is pulmonary consults… you want outpatient, there is pulmonary clinic… you want ICU, there is critical care. Something for every age in life.

5. Growing field.

Medicine is growing and innovative. With pulmonary critical care, this is truly a growing field as we learn to save lives quicker than in the past.

What Does the Path to Pulm/Crit Care Look Like?

Critical care is a great pathway to go into. This is a path you can get to from EM (emergency medicine), anesthesia, or IM. It is 2 years and with critical care only, you would be certified to work in the ICU. This would allow a nice lifestyle with shift-work, work a couple weeks, take off a couple weeks, or anyway to do it. With Pulmonary/critical care, in addition to working in the ICU (As a critical care intensivist) you will be able to do pulmonary consults on the floors, pulmonary as an outpatient in addition to working in the ICU. It does require 3 years and 2 board exams, but at the end of the day, the gratification is worth it.

In conclusion, this is NOT only a man’s profession, as people tend to think. Everyday more and more women are joining pulmonary critical care and this is incredible. Let’s continue to make this an equal playing field!

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