Not many specialties offer physicians an opportunity to form an 18-year relationship with patients, many of those years being healthy, happy ones. A good pediatrician becomes part of a child's life, many times from the very first days. You're someone they'll remember even when they age out of pediatric care...(or don't, like young adults who still see their pediatricians into their 20s or even 30s). The truth is, you're not just giving exams and writing prescriptions as a pediatrician-you're touching lives in a lasting way. What a privilege! And seeing healthy adults emerge from years of care, or even seeing their children as former patients come back after becoming parents, is a gratifying feeling.
Specialists who mostly see adults miss out on one of the most magical things about pediatrics: watching a child grow from babyhood to adulthood, with all of the stages in between. You'll get to see smiling, cooing babies who never meet a stranger that turn into adorable little lisping talkers who wear princess t-shirts and laugh at your pranks. Those children will turn into school-age kids who can have conversations with you but still keep that desire for connection-maybe through a well-placed high five. And seeing those children turn into teenagers with their futures ahead of them, knowing you've been a part of that process, is icing on the cake. You're not dealing with a cranky middle-aged man who, in 18 years, only gets slightly crankier and loses some extra hair (although we're all grateful for the professionals who give adults quality care). You've got a lot to look forward to!
For some reason, we can't picture a nephrologist's practice offering a room full of toys to waiting patients, instituting superhero shirt Fridays, or offering prizes to well-behaved patients at the end of a visit. Quite honestly, we're not sure we'd want to go to that office if it existed. But for pediatrics, having an environment with a little fun, whimsy, color (and bribery) is all part of the job. The calling to care for kids and the burdens you may have to face are just as serious as in any other medical specialty, but the environment you work in has to foster a sense of fun and comfort in kidsâ€”and that means not taking yourself too seriously. There's probably no other job where brushing up on dad jokes and learning a few basic magic tricks are part of providing care. That's how we like it. Children are fun, and so are we.
Only a few career paths offer the diversity of opportunities and medical scenarios that a pediatric career offers. Since pediatricians typically serve as the primary care physician for humans with very unique sets of needs, there are opportunities to dip into a wide range of bodily systems, including covering psychiatric needs, both chronic and acute illnesses, orthopedic concerns, and much, much more. While some issues will have to be handed to a pediatric sub-specialist, you're going to see a lot more diversity in what you treat on a daily basis than your average otolaryngologist. And because your field is so broad, there are always ways to find niches in practice that align with your particular interests. Win win.
Choosing a residency is a huge, potentially life-changing moment. It seems like common sense that regret would follow the decision-moments of "what if" and fear of a bad choice, perhaps. That may be the case for some physicians, but for pediatrics, the incidence is incredibly low. In a survey given by the AAP, those who chose a categorical pediatric residency overwhelmingly report that they would make the same choice again. That number has been firmly over 90% for years now. Pediatrics is just one of those specialties where the day-to-day job actually reinforces that you did the right thing. Practicing pediatricians agree, with over 80% reporting job satisfaction in the PLACES survey for 2017, which is the last time overall satisfaction data was collected. Pat yourself on the back...you chose well!
Congratulations on choosing a specialty where the job market is hot! According to the AAP, only 3% of newly-graduated residents report that they had considerable difficulty finding a job. The reality is, hiring numbers are strong and high-quality practices are always on the lookout for new people. Here's what that means for jobseekers: A. Compensation will be competitive, and support for new doctors will be robust. B. To the practice you choose to join, you'll matter. Like, really matter. Isn't that a good feeling? C. Your career track will include tons of opportunities to grow, advance, and still follow your passion.