Career Story: Pediatrician In The ER At A Children's Hospital

Pediatrician In The ER At A Children's Hospital

Job Title: Pediatrician

Type of Company: I work in the emergency department of a children's hospital which provides urgent and emergency care to children of all ages.

Education: BS in Kinesiology from UCLA •• MPH from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor •• MD from George Washington University

Previous Experience: I was on Navy scholarship for medical school and went on active duty after my training in Pediatrics. I worked as a staff pediatrician in Okinawa Japan, then in Naples Italy, and finally in Bremerton WA before I resigned my commission. Then I worked in a small community clinic in Denver before we moved to Boston, MA where I work in the emergency department at a children's hospital.

Job Tasks: In my current job, I take care of all kinds of problems that kids present with in the emergency department including cuts that need stitches, beads in noses or ears, ankle and hand injuries. I take care of kids with dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting needing IVs, kids with ear infections and colds, kids with complicated medical problems including kids with sickle cell crisis, kids with fever in the context of treatment for cancers etc. I work with many talented people including other physicians, pharmacists, subspecialists, nurses and clinical assistants. I greatly value the help from nurses who I depend on for a variety of tasks and whose opinion I value as well.

My day is very busy from the moment I step in through the door. The Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day and often there can be a long wait for patients to be seen. After I see a patient, do my exam, and discuss my plan with the family, I talk with the nurse to let him or her know my thoughts and what I'd like done. I then write orders in the computer for the nurse to carry out. These may be to draw labs (such as blood tests), insert an IV, obtain an X-ray or give medications. I then try to write a note in the electronic chart to document the history, physical exam, the assessment, my treatment course and plan. Sometimes I have to talk to the radiologist or another subspecialist such as a surgeon or gastroenterologist about the patient depending on the problem.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is addressing a patient's problem, trying to figure out what's wrong with the patient and helping the family understand the diagnosis and how to care for the patient. Education is a huge part of the job and I really like talking to families.

The worst part of my job are the late hours and often feeling rushed to see patients quickly as there are always other patients waiting. The other part of my job I don't really like is how long it really takes to document the visit in the computer record.

Job Tips: I loved medical school and the privilege of working with families on really personal stuff. Make sure if you're pursuing a career in medicine that you're prepared for long hours and that you're in it for the right reasons. It's an exciting albeit sometimes very stressful career. I didn't go straight from undergraduate studies to medical school and I think that made me appreciate medical school all the more.

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