Most who venture to Med-Peds residency are those who love to care for not only adults (Internal Medicine), but also children (Pediatrics.) Per the National Med-Peds Resident’s Association, “Med-Peds programs include 4 years (48 months) of training in two specialties, pediatrics (study of children and adolescents) and internal medicine (adult medicine). The training is integrative and rotations in general are 1 month in duration, while alternating between internal medicine rotations and pediatrics rotations approximately every 3 to 6 months. In addition, residents constantly transition between children and adults in resident ambulatory practices and conferences to reflect Med-Peds in “real life”. Residents have mandatory rotations and elective rotations during the 4 years.”
As you can see being in Med-Peds means you will receive extensive training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics allowing you to be ready to treat any age range of person. To elaborate on just how special this is and why you may want to consider Med-Peds I want to share three interactions I have had.
1 The Nursery in Tenwek Hospital
I could never forget this special place. Working in the nursery here and encountering new life was truly a remarkable experience. Here, they do not have all the modern, medical equipment and supplies that we do. But all the same babies are born, delivered, cared for, and treated regardless. And so when it came time to deliver, each experience was the same (and beautiful):
Your perseverance and relentlessness is just beginning as you enter this world. Before I remove your hand from my fingertips, I say a quick prayer and bring you to your mother! Each grasp of those little fingers I experience changes my life. So much life, so much hope, and so much strength! Children are so inspiring and a huge reason to choose Med-Peds.
2 The Strength of a Child
I was on an emotionally difficult rotation - hematology oncology- with a child who changed my life forever. “Dr. Tommy, you may know how to skip, but I bet you don’t know how to dance.” These were the snarky words spoken by a beautiful, bald, energetic six-year-old child diagnosed with a malignancy. Despite celebrating her birthdays in the hospital and battling the side effects of chemo, she was still able to show joy.
I have used this same attitude to relate to residency. Residency can be so daunting and emotionally straining with 24-hour calls lasting thirty-six hours, five notes turning into nine after four admits fifteen minutes before your shift ends, or losing your most loved patient. But It is vital to have a spirit of joy, especially in this type of work setting, and I believe pediatrics brings that out in a person. Still, there is always joy to be celebrated and dances to be danced. And that is what she taught me.
3 With Age Comes Wisdom, Experience, Knowledge, and Understanding
During one of my vigorous, surgery rotations we were consulted on an older patient suspected to have lymphoma. What I thought would be a quick conversation ended up being an experience that pierced my heart forever. I saw fear, worry, and hurt in his eyes. He was not naïve and knew the brutality of this situation. At that moment, I realized he needed more than just an explanation of his biopsy, or the skill of the surgeon; he needed our time, presence, and compassion from a friend, not his doctor. As I saw a cross hanging from his neck, I asked the chief resident if I could pray with him. When we did, immediately the fear and sadness was wiped away and hope lit up his face.
A few months later, I received a call from the oncologist to see a patient in his office. As I entered the room, I was struck by someone hugging me as he exclaimed, “It’s you, the Angel God sent me.” He had remembered me, solely because I gave him my time, prayers, and compassion. As Dalai Lama XIV writes in The Art of Happiness, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Through working with adults, I have learned the importance and the art of true happiness and true patient care. The more and more I work at the bedside of my adult or elderly patients, the more I learn the true art of medicine that cannot be performed without patience, kindness, and love.
So why choose Med-Peds residency? I would say because it is a field where you get to hold the hand of a premature baby to experience their immense strength, dance through the storms of life with a child to experience their resilience, and spend time at the bedside with those of age, developing a friend for a lifetime to learn the importance of life that does not involve any medicine at all, but rather time, love, and compassion.