Pursuing Pediatrics: Tips from MU-COM Alumni - Part 2

by Student Worker Jenny Rodriguez | Sep 28, 2021

Katie Loke '23 | September 28, 2021

“Pathway

As an aspiring pediatrician, I reached out to numerous MU-COM alumni to learn more about becoming a pediatrician and what it is like to be a pediatrician. After receiving insight from five alumni in different stages of their careers, I wanted to share their thoughts with other students who may be interested in pediatrics, as well. 

What attributes, abilities and talents are important to be successful in pediatrics?

    The field of pediatrics is unique. As many people say, children are not just little adults. Their physiology, pathology, and care can be vastly different than that of adult patients. That being said, I asked the MU-COM alumni what specific attributes or talents are important to be successful in pediatrics. 

    Katelyn Dato-on headshot

    Katelyn Dato-on ‘21: Resilience, empathy, and good communication skills. A large majority of the children you may care for in pediatrics are either healthy or will recover quickly from an illness. From time to time, however, you will encounter very sick or dying children or children with unfortunate social situations. You need to be able to process and cope with those events in a healthy manner while also continuing to provide the best care to your other patients. You are also responsible for managing the family unit. Parents may be stressed out and understandably emotional. You need to be able to effectively communicate and educate families while keeping in mind that they are likely scared and worried for their children.

    Katelyn Campbell headshot

    Katelyn Campbell ’20: Adaptability is a crucial skill to be successful in medicine, no matter what you specialize in. Having a good sense of self is so important in peds because children can read sincerity like no one else, and they will be able to tell if you’re faking it – it’s also a good life skill in general.

    Tyler King headshot

    Tyler King '18: To be successful in pediatrics, being an educator and an advocate are paramount. The pediatric population is unique in that shared decision-making between providers, caregivers, and patients directly impacts outcomes. With this comes great opportunities to work with families, identify how we can help, and best create a plan that encompasses the unique needs of each of our patients. This offers a great opportunity to advocate for our patients as well, which in pediatrics is so important.

    Sarah Olvey headshot

    Sarah Olvey '18: Going into pediatrics requires quite a bit of patience. You will encounter all different kinds of families—and often you will hear people say that parents can sometimes be very challenging to work with. I think as long as you are patient and open to looking at situations from different perspectives, you will be able to be successful.

    In addition to patience, it is very important to be able to connect with children. To be playful with them, recognize their likes and dislikes, and gain their trust will really optimize your care. Parents will see these interactions and come to trust you and your medical care more, and the patient-parent-provider relationship will be able to flourish.

    Rachel Gahagen headshot
    Rachel Gahagen '17: You must be empathetic. You must listen first, judge second. You must be diligent and mindful of a thorough differential.

    In general, the alumni had similar responses. They said being adaptable and patient, having empathy, and having good communication skills are paramount in pediatrics. In pediatrics, you work with patients who may be nervous and who cannot always express their concerns. In addition to the patient, you also work with the care team (i.e. parents or guardians); thus, you must be understanding of everyone’s unique needs and work with them to provide the best care possible.

    Thank you to the alumni for their time!
    To the MU-COM alumni, thank you for paving the way for current and future students and for taking the time out of your busy schedules to share your insight about pediatrics. Each one of their responses shows their dedication and compassion for the patients and families they care for. We are so lucky to have you all to look up to.

    About the author

    Katie Lepak headshot

    Katie Loke is a third-year medical student at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM). Prior to attending MU-COM, Katie attended and graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. Katie was the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) President at MU-COM as a second-year medical student. As the SOMA President, Katie coauthored two resolutions that were passed as National SOMA policy—one on disability education for medical students and one on sex trafficking education for physicians and medical students. Katie also enjoys volunteering for Children’s TherAplay, a pediatric hippotherapy facility, where she helps patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities during their therapy sessions. Additionally, she did research at Riley Hospital for Children through the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. When Katie is not studying or working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, and cat, trying new food, and exploring Indianapolis with friends.

    Continue to Pursuing Pediatrics Part 3.

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