Playing Peek-A-Boo in Med School

Today was an AMAZING day. Why? Because I got to shadow a community pediatrician and play with babies. I sported my prim white coat, my scopes, my clipboard, and my best smile. And mind you, I’m still an underdog here, right smack bottom of the medical hierarchy.

The day started off with a presentation on newborn physical exams and adolescent care. I figured today will be a long-ass day, so I stocked up on food: brown rice & vegetables, yogurt parfait with cereal, pear, and apples. Little did I know that we were treated to breakfast in class. So I had a second breakfast: coffee, egg bagel w/vegetable cream cheese, 1/4 blueberry muffin, and 1/2 cheese danish. Breakfast of champions, for medical students.

Then there was a tour in the pediatric floors: the NICU (Neonatal), PICU (Pediatric), and the nursery. We walked by one of the nurseries, and we just ogled at the tiny, hours-old baby kicking and crying. It was naked, pink, and hyper. So adorable. We also noticed this blue-purple light coming from one of the other nurseries. Like flies, we got attracted to the fluorescent light. Then we realized the baby was getting phototherapy, likely for neonatal jaundice because the mechanism for converting bilirubin in the liver is not quite developed yet. The light allows the conjugation process to happen and bilirubin to be broken down properly. Anyway, away from the science parts, and onto my excitement roaming the pediatric wards. Basically, I can’t wait to dabble with neonates and babies in 3rd year, or even sooner if I get a chance to shadow.

Now, my partner and I had to go to Islandia to see the pediatrician. Luckily, this Mid-Suffolk Pediatrics place is right near my home in Ronkonkoma. I could’ve gone home, since I live around the corner, but I do not have my own car or the eagerness to trek home again. Anyway, we got to work with three different doctors in this large private practice. Come on, you walk in to purple walls and giant stuffed animals looking at you from the ceiling. The place oozes happiness.

How Can You Resist the Cuteness?!

Let me state this face: I love kids. I love playing with them, whether it involves piggyback rides or tackling them down in a game of flag football. However, I learned after one day in the pediatrician’s office that I do not want to be a pediatrician. I want something more exciting and intellectually challenging. In general pediatrics, you get continuity of care and the kids you see have been with you since babyhood. You basically watch them grow up and you really get to know them and their whole family. However, all you see are headaches, strep throats, ear infections, sneezes, coughs, fevers, sore throats, sinuses, etc… the list can go on. You deal with paperwork, referrals, immunizations, check-ups, and the slight sniffles, nothing really interesting. But as a specialist, you have options in infectious disease, cardiology, GI, hematology-oncology, rheumatology, or neonatology. You see the special cases, and you are the expert. You are special yourself.

Nonetheless, I got to play with kids in medical school. The parents were kind and accommodating. You have the shy ones, the shriekers, the cute and cuddly ones, the yappers, and the behaved donkeys. One baby boy, he was in his mother’s arms. He kept turning to me and my partner, grabbing our stethoscopes and hands with his teeny-tiny fingers. He had these chubby, pink cheeks and milk-white face. He was very quiet and well-behaved, just very grabby and curious. While the doctor was checking his sister, I took that time to entertain myself a little. So I played the classic peek-a-boo game with him. And of course, the kid does not have object permanence yet, so he LOVED it. Giggly as hell. Even the sister got in the game and started playing peek-a-boo with me.

And this one little girl, she and her mother were SO nice and talkative. She was giggly and happy, especially when she’s going through this phase where she thinks babies look funny. So just sitting there, she’s conjuring up an image of a baby and she begins to giggle like mad. She was so comfortable with strangers, she was waving and saying “Hi” to us.

I’d say today was a successful day. Slightly boring and tiring, speaking we were floating behind the doctors like Casper on our feet all day for almost 5 hours. I did get a taste of the pediatric field in the low-key, private practice setting. Will I work in this field? I will not say “Yes, definitely” or “Nah, this is soooo boring.” I’ll keep my options open and see what my ‘calling’ is. I’ll consider other pediatric sub-specialities, because for now, I’m liking the kiddy portion of medicine =)

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