Paths to Pediatrics--Lan Jiang, MD

This month I ask my questions of a resident.
Paths to Pediatrics--Lan Jiang, MD

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What was your path to pediatrics?
What inspired me to pursue a career in pediatrics was a unique journey that began in Nanjing, China, where I spent my childhood up until high school. Oddly enough, I never had a pediatrician, which meant I hadn't initially considered this specialty. However, my unwavering passion for science and my desire to use my scientific knowledge to make an impact in people's lives led me to explore various paths.

During my college years at Notre Dame I enrolled in a course called 'Poverty in Medicine.' During this course I had the privilege of working closely with my professor, a Family Medicine doctor, who paired me with one of his patients. This patient was a lady in a substance use rehabilitation program, and through her personal journey, I gained profound insights into the complex social factors affecting healthcare.  I learned about the opioid crisis, the far-reaching consequences of housing instability, the prevalence of mental health crises, and the grim reality of domestic violence.

This eye-opening experience left an indelible mark on me and solidified my resolve to pursue a career in medicine. It was only during my third year of medical school that I discovered my true passion for pediatrics, realizing that the field offered the perfect blend of my scientific interests and my desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young patients and their families.

Why did you decide to go into pediatrics?
I am always amazed by the diverse spectrum of pathologies seen in the field of Pediatrics, from congenital abnormalities in newborns to complex complications that can arise in older pediatrics patients. What makes this field truly special is the unique role it bestows upon me as a physician. In Pediatrics, I am not just treating the disease, but also serving as a compassionate listener to both my patients and their families. This unique role allows me to establish a deep and trusting connection with the patients’ family and advocate for the patient’s wellbeing and ensuring the delivery of best possible care. 

When did you decide to go into pediatrics? 
I did not make the decision to go into Pediatrics until the latter part of my third year in medical school. Although I enjoyed all my clinical rotations, I found a particular fascination in the enduring connections that pediatricians share with their young patients and their families. Witnessing the gratifying experiences of aiding children in achieving their potential solidifies my commitment to this path. 

Was it an event, a person, something else that inspired you to go into pediatrics? 
My journey towards Pediatrics was profoundly influenced by my NICU rotation in medical school. During the rotation, I cared for a newborn with severe jaundice of unclear etiologies. I recalled consulting various subspecialities as well as sitting down with the family, simplifying the complex medical information through plain language and basic diagram drawings. One day, I overheard the parents referring to me as their baby’s doctor. This moment served as a defining confirmation of my calling to Pediatrics. It is an immense privilege for me to participate in the care of these vulnerable young lives, especially during some most critical moments. 

Has it been what you expected?
In truth, the residency experience has exceeded my expectations in every way and this is only my third year in this field. One memorable case stands out: I encountered a new teenager patient in my continuity clinic, who had severe anxiety that impaired her daily life. With the patient and her parents, together, we developed a comprehensive treatment plan that involved connecting her with mental health services and starting a mood stabilizer medication. As time went by, her symptoms improved significantly. Approximately a year after our initial appointment, she had transformed into a college student with a clear ambition to study Psychology, driven by desire to make a positive impact on others’ lives. 

What should a young person considering pediatrics as a career know? 
Pediatrics is a field that is emotionally taxing yet highly rewarding. For those aspiring to make their mark in this area, it is vital to possess a resilient and compassionate heart. The journey of a pediatrician not only involves celebrating developmental milestones, but often involves confronting the heart-wrenching reality of children falling critically ill. Nevertheless, words cannot describe the profound privilege of being a caregiver and advocator of someone else’s child, during these challenging moments. 

What are your plans for the future?
After completing my General Pediatric Residency at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, my immediate plans include taking on the role of chief resident for one year. Beyond that, I am planning to pursue a career in Neonatology. 

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