No day is the same, and no day is predictable, either good or bad. Other than pre-scheduled meetings, “zooms,” or webinars, my patient care schedule is always full of the unexpected. As a physician, I find that my moods and emotions ricochet from feelings of endearment towards a newborn whom I examine to those of helplessness in attempting to counsel an adolescent with thoughts of suicide. Treating children as a provider, regardless of the reasons, signs, or symptoms, can be mentally and physically exhausting, yet energizing in knowing that I try to contribute to their physical and mental wellbeing. I trust that my advice is sound and meaningful, although I always have feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy or inaccuracy when I consider my interactions in retrospect. My patients and their families trust that I am always right or provide the appropriate prescription or treatment, yet medicine is so inexact as a science. The only aspect of my profession that I hold more valuable than any science-based conjecture is compassion and empathy, neither of which can be wrong as long as they are based upon truth and sincerity.
Caring for children has always seemed natural, much as a society always tries to shield and protect its vulnerable. I often consider that my role is to protect children from injury, illness, and mental duress as much as I can, although my efficacy is sometimes questionable. I have often told my colleagues that the value of a patient care encounter is not based upon the quantity of time spent with them but, more importantly, the quality of the time spent, demonstrated by your ability to listen and understand the child’s needs family. Medicine is such an inexact and unsure science that we try to convince ourselves of its power by developing new drugs, procedures, and therapies, which are inherently not definitive and uniformly practical for all. But again, conveying our skills and knowledge enshrouded in caring and our best intentions increases their potencies beyond their know effectiveness.
Which are very fortunate that, for the most part, children recover from illnesses or injuries, sometimes feebly assisted with our drugs and interventions. As providers, children remember us by our smile, touch, and patience, which fortunately outlasts other memories such as vaccines and blood draws. I am very proud to consider that I care for children as much as I ever have, I never avoid an embrace from a toddler, which warms my heart, and I mourn and feel the pain of a parent who has lost a child, a wound which is the deepest we can ever experience. But I love medicine and the gift it has given me to care for and protect the lives of children, filling myself and my colleagues like me with humility that can never be overcome the assumption of power or influence.
Without providing the origins of these considerations, know that they are derived from feelings of melancholy and mental fatigue, partially to be erased by the eventual benefits of sleep and rejuvenation, allowing me to provide care to others in need, day after day after day.