Self Reflection

Coming into my fifth rotation at the outpatient pediatric clinic, I was very excited and looked forward to the experience. Prior to beginning PA school, I worked as a medical assistant at a pediatric office. Those years were some of my best, where I made amazing friends, learned a lot of background knowledge that I still reference today, and gained innumerable interpersonal skills with my team and patients. I was excited to reenter the field where I began my healthcare career and continue growing in an area I felt fairly comfortable in.

This rotation has been a great experience and allowed me to pick up where I left off in pediatrics, further developing my skills and role in the field. For example, we did many throat cultures in the office, a skill that was not part of my previous job. I was glad to practice this hands-on skill, which also provided ample opportunity to practice showing compassion and empathy to patients who were often wary of getting a culture done. I spent time explaining the process to them and providing as much support as possible. This is vital in pediatrics because the unknown is scary, and often, as soon as you explain the process to a child, they calm down. Similarly, I always showed the children the “flashlight”/otoscope on their hands before placing it in their ears. This tactic didn’t always work, but more often than not, I saw a sense of relaxation come over the patient.

One of the reasons I chose to enter this profession is because of our roles as educators. I chose to take the extra minute to explain to the child what I was listening for when I auscultated their lungs and heart. I will always remember the children whose eyes lit up when I explained what their heart does and how it works. On one occasion, I had a patient ask if she could listen to her own heart, and I gladly let her use my stethoscope to listen. Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and teaching children is so rewarding. They are very curious students, and seeing them want to learn and know more inspires me to look out for opportunities to learn more for myself.

Being that this was an outpatient clinic, I was fortunate to see some patients a few times over the five weeks and build relationships with them and their parents. This, I learned, is something that should not be undervalued and is a very desirable aspect of working in an outpatient setting. My preceptor mentioned that knowing your patients is extremely helpful when it comes to treating them, as it allows you to understand who overreacts, who under reacts, and when you need to worry more than other times. Pediatrics is a field invested in the “whole individual,” encompassing issues regarding home life, education problems, social skills, and not only illness. This is a challenging part of the job, but for me, it feels extremely rewarding.

Over this rotation, I also presented various topics to my preceptor, including pertussis and erythema infectiosum. These low-stakes presentations proved very helpful and deepened my understanding of the topics. During the presentations, we discussed different theoretical issues regarding the topic. This experience highlighted my initial struggle with presentations, but through repeated practice, I began to feel more comfortable and confident. I plan to continue improving my presentation skills by seeking feedback and observing how experienced practitioners deliver their topics.

One of the challenges I faced was the use of paper charts in the office. I found this frustrating on multiple levels, as finding the charts took too much time, and writing everything down took longer than typing would. I often voiced my annoyance to myself. In hindsight, I wish I had focused my energy on finding the charts faster rather than on the negatives of paper charts. This is a lesson I can apply in many scenarios: focusing on doing my best despite challenges is essential to ensure I am the best provider I can be. I aim to carry this mindset forward into future rotations and jobs.

Overall, this rotation has reinforced my desire to work in pediatrics, where I can form meaningful connections with patients and their families. I learned that managing new types of patients and addressing their unique challenges is an ongoing learning process that requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to adapt. The knowledge and skills I’ve gained here will undoubtedly be applicable in other rotations and disciplines, particularly in understanding the importance of holistic patient care.