Paediatrics encompasses the care of children ranging from a 1-minute-old baby to an 18-year-old teenager and hence it requires a vast array of skills. I found it easy interacting with the older children, whereas dealing with the babies and smaller children was more like being a vet. The little bundles of joy can’t tell you what they want but can only cry. An afternoon on the neonatal unit, looking at preterm babies in their individual heated incubators, made me feel more like I was looking at animals in tanks.
Whilst dealing with children can be challenging at times, it was refreshing and sometimes outright hilarious! I met one seven-year-old boy who came in with a ‘foreign body’ in his ear. He confided in me with a cheeky smile that it was actually his homework. Having managed to get a glow-in-the-dark star stuck up my own nose at the age of three, I could empathise with the poor boy and could only commend his resourcefulness in escaping his homework.
Children also say the funniest things, their raw and unrefined social skills knowing no boundaries. I watched a doctor trying to make a little girl open her mouth wide by showing her in the hope that she would copy. Instead, she immediately piped up, “Er, you have a dirty tongue!”. However, my favourite moment was watching a doctor trying to examine a five-year-old girl. Whilst trying to listen to the little girl’s chest with her stethoscope, the child shouted indignantly “Don’t touch my boobies!” It did all I could to contain myself as the little madam put the consultant in her place.
Whilst working with children can be amusing, it can be incredibly sad to see those so young faced with such adversity. Overall, my experience of paediatrics revealed itself to be a challenging but rewarding speciality, with the unique opportunity to help those who will become our future.