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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Published by , on Apr 21, 2014

tiffany_headshotBy Tiffany Kimbrough, MD, pediatric resident

I recently had the pleasure of attending a career fair at Fairfield Middle School in Henrico, Virginia, where over 600 7th and 8th graders were eager to learn more about becoming a doctor. The fair was held in their gymnasium, with booth after booth of professionals touting the “awesomeness” of their jobs. From chef to pharmacist, lawyer to police officer, nurse to doctor, there were a lot of careers for the students to learn more about. While Dr. Michelle Russ (pediatric resident) and I were setting up for the event, I could not help thinking about the last time I was in a school gym. The bells ringing, signaling that you were running late to class, the squeaky floors, the smell of the gym filling my nose – it had been awhile. I felt strangely nostalgic and put me back in the mindset of being a middle school kid. It was a time when my career aspirations included everything from music and law, to the arts. As you now know, I finally decided on medicine.

Our career fair “kit” included the standard stuff – CHoR pens and pencils and the tools of our trade – stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, an otoscope and ophthalmoscope, tongue blades, and lots of hand sanitizer. We also brought Harry Porter, a MediKin doll that CHoR’s child life specialists use to teach our patients about port-a-catheters before they are placed. The kids loved it all. They eagerly tried out the stethoscopes on each other – “Whoa, that’s so weird,” one kid exclaimed when she heard her friend’s heartbeat for the first time. “Let me try again!” They looked in each other’s mouths and examined their tonsils. They listened to breath sounds. They felt Harry’s port-a-cath. A few said that when they grow up, they want to be pediatricians, too.

tiffanyIt was unbelievably refreshing to meet with so many kids and watch their eyes light up at the wonders of the human body. I don’t remember the first time I auscultated heart sounds or what my emotional response was. The initial awe and astonishment the students displayed was not the same reaction I have when trying to discern if a child has a pathological murmur during my cardiac exam. I make sure that everything sounds as it should before moving on to the lungs and so forth. I walked away from the fair remembering just how lucky I am to be able to listen to the internal rhythm of another person on a daily basis; how many people can say that they listened to a heartbeat today?

Out of all of the professions in attendance, I have to say that I think my job is the most awesome of them all. After all, I get to take care of the children at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU!

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