Ever wondered what its like to be a pediatrician or what it takes? Dr. Alexandra Pinon, a pediatrician, shares the inside scoop in our latest Q & A.
What is your title?
What is your field?
How did you decide to go into your field?
I had an epiphany in medical school during my Pediatrics rotation. It was one of my last clinical rotations and up to that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, nothing had really fit well yet. Before medical school I envisioned doing Internal Medicine, but I wasn’t excited by the clinical rotation. I have always loved children, I have always loved child development, but never envisioned working with kids professionally. During rounds my first morning in Pediatrics I watched my amazing attending calm a crying infant, soothe and inform parents who were worried sick about their daughter, and teach residents and medical students all at the same time. In that brief patient encounter all the pieces fell into place; I knew what kind of doctor I would be, I knew what patient population I would thrive engaging in every day. I haven’t looked back since.
How many years did you study and train? Where did you go to school and train?
I did a 4 year program at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and completed at 3 year residency at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, serving active duty in the US Navy.
What are somethings you enjoy about your chosen field?
Kids are fun to engage with at all ages, there is never a routine appointment. I love that I have to modify my approach, my differential diagnosis, and my treatment plan based on my patient’s age – I find it challenging and exciting. I love watching my patients grow and meet their developmental milestones. I enjoy partnering with parents to provide support and education to help their children grow into the amazing individuals that they are! Seeing my patient panel is like visiting family.
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?
The nature of treating mostly healthy patients and having very few procedures means that pediatric medicine doesn’t generate a lot of income, and therefore requires a large patient load each day and very short appointment times. I would love more time to engage with my families, especially with those who are struggling and need more anticipatory guidance. I have had to overcome the frustration of interacting with families who choose to ignore current best practices in medicine in favor of alternative treatments and theories (e.g. anti vaccine). I need to remember at the end of each day that we are running a marathon and not a sprint, and I will be able to provide the best care for my patients by partnering with their parents and establishing communication and a trusting relationship. Hopefully over time that will allow them to be more accepting of my recommendations.
What is your lifestyle like? What are your hours like? Do you take call?
Most recently, I work as an outpatient part-time pediatrician. I work three days per week, round on newborns one morning per week, take phone call one day per week, and cover one weekend per month for the group and round in the nursery.
What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? Would you recommend your field to them?
Pediatrics is a great field with a variety of career paths to choose from – none of which are mutually exclusive depending on your personal desires/life requirements. There is newborn service, hospitalist service, outpatient pediatrics, and a mix of all three (although this is becoming increasingly rare). Anyone considering working in Pediatrics has to not just love kids – they need to love teaching and they need to love families, because working in Pediatrics is, at best, being part of a family. Your patient is always going to be the child, but you need to be able to interact with the parents as well – which can be challenging, but can also be wonderful. I would recommend the field wholeheartedly.