Why choose a career in Paediatrics?


Good Question.

No, I’ve not made any decisions yet (although I wished I had already!!).

Last week, I was sent to work at the Day Care section and was just discussing with my MO about paediatrics in general and how life has been for her since she’s in the training programme. We talked quite a bit and she encouraged me to look up the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) website just to browse through the exam questions – who knows where that might lead to.

And I did.

And I found this.

Scroll down on that page and you’ll see the question that sparked my interest.

Big and bold.

“Why choose a career in Paediatrics?”

What an intriguing question.

Here’s a copy and paste transcript from the pdf file there.

There are probably as many different reasons doctors choose a career in paediatrics as there are paediatricians, but there are some themes which are particularly common.

If you find that some of the following ideas appeal to you, then you would almost certainly enjoy a career in paediatrics. If they all appeal, then you have found your destiny.

Wow. It’s as though the words became alive and spoke. Like some magic riddle that reveals the mysteries and secrets of my future.
“…then you have found your destiny”. I love that part.


Do you like being an expert?

Children have conditions affecting all the major organ systems. Some of these conditions are rare, such as inherited metabolic disease.

All paediatricians are involved in supporting the management of these conditions but some choose to specialise in the treatment of specific conditions as subspecialists.

Some paediatricians pursue an academic career and research into the causes, prevention and management of childhood illness.

Hmmmm.. Being an expert would be nice. Would be nice to know exactly what I’m doing in greater detail with more confidence when seeing these patients.


Do you like people?

Paediatrics as a specialty is all about young people, children and families. For most parents having their first child is an awesome responsibility and is consequently quite frightening. Quite a lot of paediatrics is about informed reassurance, which requires good communication skills.

Well, that was one of the reasons I took up medicine – to be among people instead of facing just papers, data and machines all day. Although it’s the people that also makes the job difficult. Unpredictable people behaviours. Especially very anxious parents. *shudders*


Do you like drama?

Managing an acutely ill child can certainly be dramatic. Diabetic ketoacidosis, meningococcal septicaemia, severe asthma and airway problems all require prompt and correct management to save the child’s life and restore them to full health.

Whilst all paediatricians will be involved in this sort of work during their training it is not necessarily permanent. Those who really enjoy it might opt to specialist in paediatric or neonatal intensive care or paediatric accident and emergency, while others might choose a different sub-specialty such as community child health.

Drama! Like re-enacting a House episode? That would be SO cool. Not cool for the patient and family, of course. But seriously, I live for drama. That’s what makes life interesting, doesn’t it? 🙂


Do you like a challenge?

Good. Younger children usually cannot explain their symptoms and their parents may have misinterpreted them.

You got that right!

A key paediatric skill is to elicit an accurate history.

Sometimes it is a bit like being a detective in a TV drama.

Like House? 😀

As a paediatrician you have to be able to cope under pressure.

Uhhhh.. I don’t know about that!! Maybe I’ll have to rethink now.


Do you like juggling?

Paediatrics is a constant juggling act. You have to decide whether the potential gain from something you do outweighs any harm it might do.

Is it more worrying for a child and their family to be admitted or looked after at home?

Paediatricians need good clinical judgement. You will also need to be able to juggle the demands on you with the wishes and needs of yourself and your family.

Yeah. Here is where it gets tricky. Whether I will ever have my own family or not. If I do, family’s first. No question. Can’t juggle on that!


Do you like being a member of a team?

That is just as well. Paediatrics probably epitomises team working, not just with other paediatricians and nurses but also with doctors from other specialties and general practice as well as many other professionals including physiotherapists, teachers, social workers and unfortunately sometimes the police.

Yup. So true… so true. I’m okay with being a team member. It’s fun to work with others.


Do you like making people better?

One of the joys of paediatrics is that most children are fundamentally healthy. They may become acutely ill for a range of different reasons, but when the acute problem has been successfully treated the child returns to full health, generally permanently.

Some children have chronic illness which can shorten or threaten life and impact on quality of life. These include cancers, neurological conditions and HIV infection. As a paediatrician you can be a real help to those children and their families even if you cannot cure them.

That’s the exact reason why I stepped into this career. That my life may be used to serve others and help those in need. I’ve seen these cancer patients, horrid neurological conditions and HIV patients. My heart breaks for these children. If I could do anything to make it better for them, I would… in a heartbeat.


Do you want to travel?

Are you kidding me!? YES YES YES!! 😀

Paediatricians are needed all over the world and there are opportunities to work overseas during your training, either through Voluntary Service Overseas or as a pre-arranged out of programme placement within your training programme.

Not sure if that’s available in Malaysia though. Maybe in the UK.

But yes. I will travel. That’s like a dream for me. To go places and do what I do for others who need it. Like in Haiti now. Or in poverty stricken countries with malnourished children.

So in the end, have I found my destiny, you ask? Hmmmm. I don’t know. I didn’t quite answer all the questions with a 100% YES. We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess. Wait for an answer.


4 thoughts on “Why choose a career in Paediatrics?

  1. james says:

    Lydia… have a good think about it… It’s a good specialties to be in…. the RCPCH website is certainly a good site for that info… Speak to the consultant…. being in the training programme give u part of the picture… consultants who have been practicing would tell u more… especially when they are juggling between their personal life and work life too… Hope you decide on ur ‘destiny’ soon 🙂 I am certain you have all the attributes to be one!! Good Luck lydia 🙂 God Bless

  2. Dr Sarita ranadive says:

    It’s intriguing and challenging to diagnose tiny tots who cannot communicate ,so u r completely at the mercy of ur clinical skills n thorough observation

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