Saturday, May 21, 2011


Occasionally someone will write in wondering why I became a neurologist. It was mostly by process of elimination, as I learned other things just weren't for me.

My pediatric career died fast in med school.

That rotation, during my 3rd year, was 8 weeks long. It took me 15 minutes to realize I didn't want to do this for a living. So I was left with 7 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes of waiting it out (and pretending to have a deep interest in hearing about the color of a child's diarrhea/mucus/whatever).

1. I can't see a tympanic membrane in a baby's ear canal (and am convinced most pediatricians just confabulate the "it's a little red" line).

2. I remember trying to examine a hysterically screaming infant in pediatric clinic. It was screaming before I went, in, and me trying to listen with a stethoscope only made things worse (and damaged my hearing).

Finally the mother said "FOR GOD'S SAKE! MAKE HIM STOP CRYING!!!"

So I left the room. That seemed to do the trick.

And that was how I realized I had absolutely no interest in doing peds.


Betsy said...

As a pediatrician, I can explain why I am not a neurologist! My med school neurology rotation consisted of spending hours in a small conference room detailing exactly which small branch of a blood vessel caused the stroke, yet there was still nothing anyone could do about it but give aspirin and "hope for the best"! Your posts make me laugh - thanks! But I'm still glad I'm a pediatrician and not a neurologist! :)

Doctor Blondie said...

Well, Betsy summed up why I ruled out neurology.
Also, I CAN see the tympanic membrane in a baby's ear... and hearing about the colour if the diarrhoea was still more pleasant than having it end up all over the bed. Pampers don't work so well.
I ruled out surgery because I fainted, I ruled out psych because I'm too good a 'real' doctor.

Bethany said...

I'm not a doctor, but as a nurse, I can honestly say that it's not any more exciting to learn about the color of a 70 year old's poop/vomit/snot/etc. And they REALLY want to tell you ALL about it!!!

Anonymous said...

You tried to use a stethoscope on a screaming infant? With all due respect, Dr Grumpy, that's kinda dumb. Speaking from the veterinary point of view, even a loud purr can be a bit much through a stethoscope. A bark or whinny is just excruciating.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

I was doing what my attending told me to do. Resistance was futile.

Eileen said...

That sounds like a "I suffered this - so you will too" sort of instruction.

Anonymous said...

My BBD (brilliant, beautiful daughter) wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but decided that having a life outside of the hospital was important to her, so thinks neurology will be her path. Her relatives are all looking forward to the day she accomplishes this goal - there are several that we want her to fix ;)
As the front desk person for many years, it always amazed me that people wanted to tell ME the minute details of their various fluids and such so that I could schedule just the right kind of appointment for them.

elli said...

My pediatric ICU clinicals disabused me of any desire - half of the children had rare neurodegenerative diseases, and they all came in for the same things - exacerbation of seizures and aspiration pneumonia. At once heart-breaking and tedious.

No cures either - although one patient's little sister was caught in time because of the older sister's diagnosis, which came too late for the older girl.

Tee said...

You know, I use to think that anyone who worked in the pediatric field had the hardest job in the world. But reading your blog has made me realize that it could be worse. With children, you can recognize that they (for the most part) are not trying to be difficult. With adults... ah, not so much. (totally tongue in cheek here)

Grunge Style said...

I pretty much came to the same conclusion during my nursing rotations. I couldn't stand the parents who neglected their 5 week old, and explaining to new parents of a 3 week old that the reason the baby wasn't eating was because babies don't eat the powder until it's shaken in water (no, seriously). The kids I don't mind - it's the parents that drove me nuts.

SuFu PhD said...

Pathology is sounding so nice right now. If I have a patient complain, then I can just send them back because they obviously don't need that scheduled autopsy.

Anonymous said...

If you want to really annoy a pediatrician, tell them they are are really just a type of veterinarian.
If you want to really annoy a veterinarian, let them hear you saying that to a pediatrician.

McFury CPhT said...

Oh how I wish you were a pediatric neurologist!

My daughter has been having seizures since she was six weeks old (born in January 2011) and her neurologist will not call us back with the darn results except to say "Yep, everything is normal."

Locations of visitors to this page