After two tiring weeks of inpatient pediatrics, I’m now having the more enjoyable experience of outpatient pediatrics. For starters, the hours are much better. It has felt like a vacation to get up at 6:30 AM and be expected at work by 8:30 AM. The days feel like they fly by. The pace of outpatient medicine seems to suit me…traveling from exam room to exam room, meeting new people, considering different problems, and then moving on… It has been refreshing. Inpatient pediatrics often felt endless because the patients didn’t leave for many days, and there were always labs to follow up, appointments to schedule, and notes to be written. The day never really ends at the hospital. Day stretches into night, with more tasks to be done, and no rest for the weary.
Another perk of outpatient medicine that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is a healthy respect for the lunch hour. The practice where I’m working is conveniently located about two tenths of a mile away from a Japanese restaurant that I love, so I’ve walked there for lunch a couple of times already. It’s a bit harder on the wallet than packing a lunch, but it’s something I look forward to all morning. The outpatient portion of the pediatrics clerkship is only two weeks, and with Thanksgiving falling in the middle, it’s really only 7 days long. So, for the happiness they bring me, I think I can justify a few lunches!
A downside to outpatient pediatrics is the close proximity to nasty germs. While I was doing inpatient pediatrics, I never really got close to many patients. I took histories and physicals on quite a few, but they usually weren’t contagious. I wasn’t worried about catching acute pancreatitis or a behavioral crisis. Given the time of year, a significant portion of the patients coming into the outpatient practice are coming in for sick visits. And I can’t avoid getting close to them…looking in ears requires a very close approach, right in the danger zone for coughs and sneezes. Naturally, I’ve already caught a cold, and it put a real damper on my Thanksgiving fun since I was feverish, achy, and had no appetite. Fortunately, the holiday weekend gave me a chance to rest and recover.
So, aside from the germs, I’ve been having a good time in outpatient pediatrics. It’s been gratifying to finally see things in real life like acute otitis media, and to begin to develop a familiarity with examining ears, a tricky task I’ve often avoided. I have one more week of outpatient work, and then I’ll move on to pediatric gastroenterology and cardiology. The pediatrics clerkship feels like it’s gone by very fast. Three more weeks and then it will be the holidays, and third year will be halfway done! I can’t believe how time flies!