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The Joys of Pediatric Surgery

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” - Nelson Mandela

If you are a high school student or a college undergraduate aspiring to become a medical professional someday, this article is your sign to consider pursuing the specialty of pediatric surgery! You would have to succeed in one of the longest and most competitive training programs in the medical field. A typical path involves four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, two to five years of residency in general surgery, and one to two years of a fellowship in pediatric surgery. This would be a total of 11 to 15 years of rigorous preparation!

But first, what are the responsibilities of a pediatric surgeon?

A pediatric surgeon handles newborns, infants, and adolescents. This type of surgeon is specifically trained to navigate through the complex systems of smaller and younger bodies and treat traumas, defects, and complications in children through surgical procedures. Some cases would be appendicitis, obesity, cleft lip, malformed organs, bone fracture, and cancer. One must assess the patient’s medical history and request the necessary laboratory tests and images in order to ensure that the diagnosis is correct. Additionally, one must explain to the patients and their families about the diagnosis and the recommended treatment options. Adequate and high-quality care must be provided throughout the entire process of surgery - before, during, and after.

It is the pediatric surgeon’s duty to provide assurance to the patient’s family and to make sure that they would not be disappointed by the outcomes. It may be challenging to trust the doctor’s capabilities in treating their children; therefore, one must be careful not to disappoint them with unfavorable and devastating outcomes.

Why should you choose this specialty?

Unfortunately, there is a global shortage of pediatric surgeons. Some children are unable to obtain the proper procedures and treatments specifically designed for their small and young bodies. This specialty is definitely essential because the emotional and physiological elements of a mature adult are different from that of an infant and an adolescent individual indicating that there could be significant risks if the same course of action made for adults (but modified to a smaller scale) is provided to children.

Seize the opportunity to continuously create an impact in children’s lives!

The hospital is truly a scary environment for some children. With their innocence and lack of experiences, they may be easily terrified by the nature of their conditions and the idea of surgery. Therefore, most offices of pediatric surgeons provide various toys, board games, books, and movies appropriate for children. This would allow them to feel safer and more comfortable all throughout their consultation sessions and hospital stay. If you choose this profession, you would even have the chance to play with your patients during your off-duty times! This type of interaction would not only reduce the children’s fear and stress but also enable you to unwind from your difficult tasks.

In addition, children who have illnesses and defects are more likely to be victims of bullying, discrimination, and exclusion from friend groups. They may feel very different from their peers and have low self-esteem. As their pediatric surgeon, you may be able to establish a connection with them through initiating conversation and learning more about them. You can offer some advice to alleviate their situation and play a role in boosting their self-confidence!

Eliminating a child’s medical threat through surgery could ensure a longer lifespan. Through the skills and expertise obtained from your training, you would be able to provide the child with a renewed chance in life. The most satisfaction you can get from this job would be watching your patients heal and return to their normal lifestyle. Furthermore, your patients may even keep you updated through sending letters and pictures in order to express their gratitude to you. You would witness how they mature into adults and how you touched their lives! In an unfortunate circumstance that the child would succumb to his/her illness and be unable to survive the surgical procedure, you can offer your support to his/her family members and form a relationship with them during such difficult times.

Empathy and kindness are essential qualities to become a pediatric surgeon. Certainly, these aspects will prove to be very important in any field of medicine. However, it is the passion for healing children that would make you choose pediatric surgery. So, are you ready to make a difference in a child’s life?

Thank you for reading until the end!

Oriana Tolentino



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