Day in the Life of a Resident & Core Attributes: Paediatric Medicine

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Peds residencies are relatively more varied compared to some, with a range of different cases and systems involved throughout your time. As with any residency, expect to start with relatively less independence (and perhaps much earlier mornings) in first year, and work towards greater independence over the course of the program. Below is a typical residency day that might be expected in second year.

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Day in the Life of an Paediatric Medicine Resident

6am: Arrive at the hospital and begin to take sign out from your co-resident who has been handling the night shift. By 6.30am they’re on their way home, and you’re now able to walk around the ward – here, a neonatal unit. You’ll spend half an hour or so getting further information from the overnight nursing team before they sign out, checking if there is anything of particular concern to be aware of. Perhaps more so than any other residency, the frailty and importance of life can be felt in peds – with a neonate, in particular, requiring a huge amount of monitoring.

7.30am: By this point you’ll likely have covered enough of the ward to be able to grab a quick bite to eat or a coffee, perhaps discussing cases with fellow residents. Being able to share information with others, support them, or receive support, is vital to processing the day ahead in the early mornings. Expect to see the attending and senior team members appearing before 8am, with questions and perhaps requiring some input from you on cases or overnight updates.

8am: Expect rounds to begin properly around this time. Each patient will require around 10-15 minutes of discussion, which will likely cover both a) what happened overnight and management plan moving forward, and b) some learning points or questions on the case as well. Medical students will often feature during rounds, with this being a major part of the curriculum for them – expect to have to help with their teaching, even in first year, and to be able to make use of them to some extent as well!

It’s likely that rounds won’t be entirely smooth sailing, as they’re often broken up by pagers – you might have a deliver to attend to, for example, if you’re currently assigned to deliveries, or perhaps you’ll need to prepare the NICU for a new patient if that’s your current assignment.

Rounds and morning tasks will take you through until after lunchtime – expect to be able to relax over lunch, although you might equally have some form of educational activity. Typical examples would include a journal article study session, giving a presentation to other residents, or working through a case with other residents. Pagers will be covered during this period.

1pm – end of day: Expect to cover a good amount of administrative work in the afternoon, including following up on labs, writing up notes and results, and discussing cases with other healthcare professionals or families. Your day will end around 6-8pm depending on the program and assignment, although short days can end as early as 4pm.

6pm – bed: Some learning will need to be done, although you should take time for yourself to relax and socialise as well. Generally, you might find it more straightforward if you try to learn alongside other residents, which ensures both that you stay on top of work and that you remain connected with your peers. 

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Core Attributes of Paediatric Medicine Residents

Peds is a varied residency program that will require adaptability, will require particular emotional resilience, and will require great communication skills. Adaptability is core given the range of presentations and systems involved – you’ll need to be confident covering a lot of different presentations, procedures, etc. Emotional resilience is vital simply because, whilst it is very rewarding, peds can also be emotionally taxing – so you will need to have reflected on this and be able to discuss it. Lastly, communication skills are of particular importance as you will have to face the duel challenge of discussing potentially difficult topics with children who are less able to communicate than adults, and of then discussing their care with their parents – who will be understandable anxious about their condition.

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