I asked Dr. Sanjeev Sriram why he does what he does, and for him it's about the kids (of course), the comprehensive approach, and public health. Here are his words:
There were (and still are) three reasons why I chose (and continue to love) general pediatrics:1. Kids:
Infancy, childhood, and adolescence are just fascinating. There's so much dynamic change that occurs in the first 20 years of a human life, and pediatrics is a fantastic way to participate in many processes: physical growth, psychological development, nutrition, interpersonal behavior, academic preparedness and performance, and so on. These processes are challenging for all children, regardless of how healthy or not-so healthy they are. And let's be honest, those processes are fun.2. Philosophy and values:
Though medicine is a calling, it is not common for physicians to speak of their field's values. In pediatrics, I have always appreciated how broadly we define health. It is not just the absence of disease. Pediatricians look within and beyond the traditional biomedical paradigm to optimize child health in simple and complex ways. We counsel families not only on physical growth, but also on simple things like how a car seat is installed to maximize safety. We care about academic performance for a variety of reasons (it's an indicator of mental health; it's a social determinant of general health; it's a stressor on family dynamics, etc.). By taking this comprehensive approach, pediatricians promote actual wellness.3. Roles beyond clinic:
This particular reason is more related to my passion for public health, but I feel pediatrics is a fantastic venue for exploring, building, and exercising my interests in public health and policy. As a community pediatrician who has always cared for under-served populations, I feel compelled to look at the ecological variables affecting the health of patients I see. I have seen the benefits of agencies and programs such as WIC
, public libraries
, and community swimming pools on the health of individuals and populations. Zooming out further, the influence of policies in health, education, and city planning can be promising or painful, depending on the policies in question. The partnership between pediatrics, public health, and policymaking is full of opportunities for involvement and growth.
There are plenty of other reasons why I love my career, but in the interest of brevity, I've shared these three. For students pondering which field to pursue, I highly recommend pediatrics for those who are looking for a lifetime of creativity, versatility, and fulfillment. Enjoy the journey
.ABOUT OUR GUEST POST CONTRIBUTOR: You can find Dr. Sriram advocating for children one by one through clinical care at our pediatric community-based health center in southeast DC, or advocating for all through his work at the National Physicians Alliance, or blogging on behalf of those most vulnerable, and otherwise continuing to make a difference.