By Sana I. Khan, OMS-III
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine
As a third year medical student entering the hospital environment for the first time, the question often arises about whether I know what field of medicine I would like to pursue. Regardless of the rotation I am on, I have never shied away from letting staff members who inquire know about my strong affinity toward pediatrics. The response that I most often receive, and have received countless times prior to my medical education, tends to center on the same sentiment: “The kids are wonderful, but it is difficult to work with the parents.” I have heard some variation of this expression on so many occasions and over such a long period of time that I have since become callous to it, impervious to the implication of those words. In an effort to explore any misconceptions I may have had about the field and to understand why I am so unaffected by something that seems to deter so many people from this specialty, I began to reflect heavily on this idea.
It was not until I completely immersed myself with current and aspiring pediatricians, that I began to notice a trend: the only healthcare professionals who have ever really expressed to me their dismay at the prospect of working with parents are those who work outside of the pediatric field. Whether it was at the Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition (OMED) Pediatric Track in Anaheim, California or at the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians Spring Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, no one burdened me with doubt when it came to the parent aspect of pediatrics. As pediatricians attended our local chapter meetings to educate us on the profession, they never instilled a fear of having to essentially work with two patients at once. In fact, this notion never really seems to come up at all when I am among my future pediatric colleagues.
There seems to be a universal understanding among those in the pediatrics field that the parent-child relationship is not meant to be separated into discrete categories, that we are not meant to be intolerant of the child or the parent and allow that to affect our craft. The parent entrusts the healthcare provider with the most precious thing they have ever created and witnessed into being; bearing this in mind, it would in fact be strange if the parent did not feel a need to be involved in the healthcare process. From what I have seen it is not that pediatricians are oblivious to the stress that parents can bring to the examination room, rather that this stress, as a side effect of caring, is a perfectly natural and inseparable part of the profession. As time goes on, I am understanding better and better the lens through which parents view the well-being of their children and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that process.
Editor's Note: Each issue of the PULSE will feature a commentary from one of our students. We encourage submissions from all of our Colleges and Schools of Osteopathic Medicine.