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Choosing Paediatrics career path

When I grow up: Paediatrics

by , 04 July, 2016
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Paediatrics rotations notoriously divide medical students. Why? Because people either love working with children, or it’s really not their cup of tea. Maybe one of the largest barriers to enjoying paediatrics, and understanding what happens in the life of a Paediatricians, is the lack of exposure to children, big and small, before starting medicine. But why does this matter during my GAMSAT® Exam prep? Well, a heads-up on the fields of medicine you’re working to enter will allow you to gain early exposure and possibly integrate those experiences in your GAMSAT® Exam writing!

In this entry, we continue the “When I grow up” series with the daily tribulations of a Paediatrician.

The Ups (Benefits)

  1. Work Hours: The work hours of a paediatrician, or paediatric registrar, are well known to be some of the most flexible in the healthcare industry. A standard day might typically start around 8:30-9:00am in the morning (which is considerably late, comparatively to other disciplines) and finish around 5:00-6:00pm in the evening. But these hours all depend on what area of Paediatrics you’re working at the time! This takes me to;

  2. Diversity: Paediatrics opens up an entirely new world of medicine. Students are repeatedly taught that “children are simply not little adults”; and this proverb continues to stand the test of time in the variety of clinical experiences you can have in paediatrics. For instance, in kids you’ll (i) see congenital conditions that would never present in adult medicine, (ii) be part of caring for, not only the patient, but the entire family, and (iii) allow you to work in multiple sub-specialties, e.g. emergency, endocrinology, oncology, development, general, surgical sub-specialties and more!

  3. The People: Paediatric medical/surgical teams and the patients you meet, are an incredibly friendly bunch. All these dreadful stories you may have heard about hostile work environments will simply not happen in your paediatric rotation. Such an environment, safe and friendly, fosters learning and enhances your professional growth potential. So make the most of it!

The Downs (Drawbacks)

  1. Sickness: Prepared to get infected during your Paediatric rotation. The majority of emergency presentations for children to hospital are by far and large infectious diseases and injuries. As a result, it’s very common for paediatric residents and registrars to have an ongoing upper respiratory illness during their whole rotation! It’s relatively benign, but these colds can sometimes get the better of you!

  2. Competition: Because of the field’s flexibility and great working style (as above), Paediatrics is growing to become a very competitive field. Be prepared to set yourself apart from the pack if this is the field for you! That being said, pretty much all medical specialties are becoming more competitive with each passing year, so don’t let that stop you!

Paediatrics is a diverse medical and surgical field. The daily life of a paediatrician is flexible, well-remunerated and, ultimately, fun. However, this must be balanced with the fact that paediatricians will bear witness to some of the most confronting family and medical issues.

If you’ve got an interest in paediatrics, now (before and during your GAMSAT® Exam prep years) is the time to get exposure to children of all ages. Volunteer to care for younger kids in your family; work as a babysitter; get involved in activities that expose you to the language and interests of young adults. If you’re  inclined to work in paediatrics, these experiences will enrich your love for the field, which will also shine through in your GAMSAT® Exam writing!  If you want to look at your options & where you could potentially study, PostgradAustralia is a great platform that allows you to explore, compare and apply for different medical specialities around Australia.

I hope this peek in the world of Paediatrics will be helpful to the ever-difficult decision of choosing a medical specialty.

Until then, good luck with GAMSAT® Exam prep and happy studying!