As a pediatrician you give vaccines, check rashes, explain infant behavior to nervous new parents, diagnose screaming children, and tell parents where their toddler ranks on growth charts. Your days are busy, sometimes chaotic and usually noisy – very, very noisy. So, if you are a pediatrician you know it, and you are probably in need of a laugh. We are here to help. For your benefit, here is “You know you are a pediatrician when…”
…money probably isn’t your motivation.
Student forums discuss pediatrician salary at length and the fact that generally, they are less than other specialties. Opinions on the extent of this disparity vary, but overall the consensus is that pediatricians choose the specialty because of a love of the work, not because of where they fall in the physician remuneration hierarchy.
“I think, overall, pediatricians are taken advantage of. Children’s hospitals are some of the most lucrative hospitals around and attendings make peanuts compared to their adult counterparts. Look at Peds cardiology vs adult non-invasive cardiology. Look at PICU vs MICU or SICU. Peds HEM/ONC makes half of adult HEM/ONC. Peds GI makes about the same as gen Peds whereas adult GI makes much more (think double). A buddy of mine is an adult hospitalist making north of $300k per year; good luck finding a Peds hospitalist job anywhere that makes that. I know that Medicaid reimburses less than private insurance or Medicare and that we do fewer procedures in children, but the disparities are crazy. Overall, I’m still glad I’m in Peds, but I think we should be honest with med students about the financial opportunity cost of pediatrics. If you ask people if pediatrics is worth making $5 million less over their careers to do Peds vs. medicine, they may have to stop and think about it.”
“I agree the disparities are crazy and unfair, but peds hospitals generally aren’t as lucrative as you might think. Pediatric reimbursement is far less because kids are considered ‘easy’ or ‘not that sick’ even though we all know that simply isn’t true. We (as a profession) and our professional organizations spend less time lobbying for improved reimbursement through medicaid, upon which a lot of our population depends. Peds hospitals tend to make money via neonatology, surgery, and sometimes cardiology if they do CT surgery. Most other peds specialties lose money or break even.”
Peds people can’t pay their staff, can’t pay their loans, yet LOVE their jobs, whereas people making gazillions per year and hating every day of it are legion.
…you have a very distinct fashion sense.
“I knew I had an awesome pediatrician when at our first appointment he walked in with cowboy boots, a ponytail, and a necktie with a cat on it.”
…you live by one mantra.
“Lord give me the knowledge to care for the children today, along with the restraint not to harm their parents.”
…you are very versatile.
“You know you have an awesome pediatrician when, after your kid tests positive for strep, you say, ‘Well, it looks like I’m going to urgent care when Dad gets home from work because I’ve had a bad sore throat for 4 days now.’ He tells you to say ahhhh, looks at your throat, turns around, and writes you a prescription also. He said mine looks worse than hers.”
…you look at life through the lens of a pediatrician – 24/7.
You tell your spouse at a nice restaurant that you’re “going to the potty”.
You still get “boo-boo’s”.
NOTHING smells bad to you anymore.
When one of your child’s first words was “pager”.
When you wash your hands BEFORE you go to the bathroom.
…you see your patients from birth to adulthood.
You see your patients for the first time right after they are born. You care for them through their infant and toddler years. You give them their vaccines before they go to school and summer camp. You take care of their childhood illnesses and watch them grow through elementary school, junior high and high school. Then you watch them graduate and go off to college. No other specialty can say that.
…you battle the internet, every day.
As a pediatrician, you battle what parents learn on the internet. Some days it seems as though “www.” stands for wild, wild, west. Parents do a bit of research and come into appointments armed with that knowledge, thinking now they are pediatric specialists. It takes patience and fortitude to get past the internet “experts” in order to educate parents on their child’s situation and best practices and then deliver the right care.
…you love your job.
“We love your kids. Ask any pediatrician why she went into pediatrics, and her first 20 reasons will be a resounding “because I love kids.” We try to win their hearts with stickers or impromptu games of peekaboo, and we secretly hope the parents are paying attention. While we may not come right out and say it, your child (yes, even when he refuses to stand on the scale, screams, and kicks at the sight of the otoscope, or suddenly develops steel-trap jaws at the mention of a tongue depressor) is a special part of why we love what we do.”