The first day of my pediatric rotation I was scared. I was scared of the little kids, the dry crusty snot under their noses, the crying, the getting peed on during infant well child exams, the trying to perform an otoscopic exam on a screaming child; all of it. I went home that first day realizing that kids aren’t just little adults. That night I memorized milestones from my Bright Futures pocket book, reviewed all the different viral exanthems, and discovered that the first-line treatment for every bacterial infection in pediatrics is amoxicillin (not really, but it seemed like it). My second day, I was more prepared. I wasn’t going to let the little buggers or their parents phase me. I figured out how not to get peed on, that an otoscopic exam will go smoothly if you tell the kiddo you want to check for the bunny rabbit that hopped into their ear, and that parents understand you are a student and are ok if you don’t know everything.
Slowly, but surely during the course of my rotation my confidence working with children grew. A turning point came during the second week of my rotation. My preceptor and I walked into a room to talk to a mom about her 7-week-old baby that we were working up for fussiness. The mom had brought her two other daughters with her to the appointment. About a minute into the visit her 16-month-old shuffled up to me, looked up into my eyes, and held out her arms. And might I add, she had the above mentioned dry crusty snot under her nose. To give you a little bit of background on my experience with children, I have close to none. My only experience has been when I was a volunteer reader for a Head Start program where the preschoolers would climb all over me trying to get the best view point to see the book. So when this little girl held up her arms to me, I didn’t know what to do. I looked at my preceptor then looked at the mom. They didn’t give my any hints. The girl was still staring at me, so I picked her up. She then rested her head on my shoulder, and it was at this point that my heart completely melted. Any lingering doubts about wanting children of my own in the future vanished. I ended up holding this snot crusted little girl on my hip for the entire visit. And when I had to set her down she started crying. My heart melted a second time.
This rotation ended up being one of the most rewarding I have experienced so far. I feel a lot more confident when it comes to major developmental milestones, rashes, respiratory infections, diarrhea, and when I should definitely be worried about a kid. I am not afraid of the cheeky little buggers anymore and most importantly, I am not afraid of snot. I just need to remember to wash my hands afterwards.