Be Aggressive

That’s what the doctor said to me today… I finished my Pediatric Gastroenterology sub-specialty rotation this week with Dr. Daum of Winthrop. I enjoyed Gastroenterology out of all my courses in my first two years. Essentially, I am saying I love dealing with poop. Because all this week, almost every patient I saw with Dr. Daum in the office, was a constipated child. Even when I was in the endoscopy center, I thought I was going to see some crazy Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, esophagitis, gastritis, or other gastrointestinal problems. Nope, I only saw a boy with perfectly clean intestines and apparently “very beautiful” villi in the small intestines because his mother wanted him scoped and checked from mouth to anus. And of course, he was just another constipated child with abdominal pain. Completely behavioral and functional in children and adolescents.

So why did Dr. Daum say I was a smart and fun kid who should “be aggressive.” That morning during NICU rounds with the chairman, he was there as well because one of the babies in the NICU was getting worked up for meconium plug. So that morning by the computer, my classmates and I gathered in the discussion about meconium plug and the differential workup to rule out Hirschprung’s disease. The doctors pulled up chest X-rays and asked us, the students, what we saw. Someone said “there’s a boot-shaped heart.” Then, long silence as the doctors asked us for any other observations. I pointed out the collapsed lung from a pneumothorax, where you can see air between the pleural surface and the rib cage. Ah yesss… very important observation.

That evening as the day ended and Dr. Daum had to run to a staff meeting. He said to me, “It was smart that you picked up on that pneumothorax this morning. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re a smart kid… Be aggressive… Because at the end of the day, you’ll be remembered.”  With these words coming from a doctor I felt intimidated in the beginning based on hearsay, I was knocked off my saddle.  In the beginning, I was avoiding any interaction with this particular doctor because he gave negative evaluations and was not very nice. Well, I experienced the opposite. He was an old-fashioned fellow, but he was thorough and kind with his patients and me. So I’m glad I made a positive impression.

Though he was running late, he spent a good 10 minutes telling me another important aspect of life as a doctor:  family is priority, medicine comes second.  Always. He was always available to his 5 kids. He said, “My kids will never say I was not there for them. Never.” And this is important for me as a future female doctor. I hope to be married by 30, settle down with my significant other, and have a happy family. From my experiences thus far in Ob/Gyn and Pediatrics, I just cannot wait to have babies, and I’ll want to be there for them from milk to milestones to merry-go-rounds. And with the lasting words of Dr. Daum, I can be assured it’s possible.

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