We know we have lots of students and trainees looking for career advice on our Women In White Coats blog, so we decided to put together a Career Series to help you better understand what the different fields and specialties within healthcare are like. To kick off this series, we asked Dr. Bande Virgil about her career as a pediatric hospitalist. Check out our Question and Answer discussion.
Q. What is your title?
A. Physician, Pediatric Hospitalist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Q. What is your field?
A. Pediatric Medicine
Q. How did you decide to go into your field?
A. My interest in pediatric hospital medicine in particular stems from several things. I love working with communities, families and children. I enjoy challenges, medical histories and patients with some complexity. I love the pace of hospital medicine how each day is a little different from the one before it. So for me, pediatric hospital medicine is a natural fit. Children are incredibly resilient and it truly brings me joy to help them recover in difficult times of illness. My work has great meaning as I am able to positively impact the family which is the cornerstone of most communities.
Q. How many years did you study and train? Where did you go to school and train?
A. After receiving my Bachelor of Arts in History from Wellesley College, I attended medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and then completed a 3 year general pediatrics residency through Morehouse School of Medicine Community Pediatrics Residency training in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta affiliated hospitals. Total training between medical school and pediatric residency after 4 years of undergrad is 7 years.
Q. What are somethings you enjoy about your chosen field?
A. I enjoy the fact that my job has so many elements. I take care of patients, using my medical and scientific knowledge. I work collaboratively with other physicians and clinicians as well as hospital administrators to improve our patient outcomes, so I get to be involved in leadership and hospital quality improvement. Additionally, I am a professor so I get to train medical students and residents. Pediatrics like all medical specialties is ever evolving, never stagnant. So for me, there are no boring days. The patient cases are intriguing and there is always something new to research on the horizon.
Q. What are somethings you wish were different about your chosen field? What are some of the challenges you face within your field? Were there obstacles you had to overcome?
A. I think most physicians would all agree we have a large amount of paperwork and charting which occupies a lot of our time. This is not unique to pediatric hospital medicine, it is the climate of medicine today. The challenge is always managing the patient charting and the busy patient care day.
Q. What is your lifestyle like?
A. This is an interesting question. Overall, I’ve fairly content with the balance in my lifestyle if that is what you mean. For me, I’ve made deliberate choices in my career that allow me to be available and present in my family life while still achieving my career goals. Right now I have young children. The position I have gives me a degree of flexibility during my afternoons so that I can be available for my children as needed.
Q. What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? Would you recommend your field to them?
A. Begin first by pursuing what you enjoy doing. You must understand that every position, career choice will have difficult challenges that is the nature of life. However if what you enjoy about your career far outweighs what you dislike or what frustrates you, the decision is a good one. Medicine is a wonderful career choice if you so desire. You will work hard, you will sacrifice, but that is true of any career you choose if you pursue it with excellence. Make sure you define for yourself what is important to you, work, personal life, etc. Also remember that your life will have seasons and allow yourself the opportunity to change as you see fit.