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All about Neonatology

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LilyMD

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Hi everyone, I'm really, really new at this. I'm not even in med school yet. I have shadowed in the NICU quite a bit and I really, really think I'd like to do that. My uncle, who is a neonatologist, says I'm putting the horse before the cart, in trying to figure out what to specialize and how that will affect my life. I really want to work with children, but I don't want to do the everyday bread and butter (vaccinations, strep throat, etc.). While I don't mind that certain things will be routine, I think the NICU is perfect is different bc the neonates are often life & death cases which gives the work an intense feel. That same thing is also what scares, I'd like to have a family at some point. How long does a neonatologist usually work (on average)? Is there a possibility for part-time? If so, what is part-time exactly? People often point out that part-time for a surgeon can often be 40 hours a week, but I'm wondering what is part-time for a NICU doctor. I know this can all change. But I'd really like to know more - what do you love about it? what do you hate about it?
 

oldbearprofessor

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How long does a neonatologist usually work (on average)? Is there a possibility for part-time? If so, what is part-time exactly? People often point out that part-time for a surgeon can often be 40 hours a week, but I'm wondering what is part-time for a NICU doctor. I know this can all change. But I'd really like to know more - what do you love about it? what do you hate about it?


Well, lets begin here.....

There are a number of different types of neonatology practices. Some neonatologists primarily do research and spend relatively little clinical time and some are full-time clinical neonatologists. Hours depend frequently on whether they are the "attending" for a week/month in the NICU or are "off-service" and may only be covering nights and weekends. Some attendings stay all-night in the hospital and others take night-call from home. So, it's really very difficult to generalize, but I think it's safe to say that neonatology has more hours than most pediatric practices and in particular a high proportion of night-call work.

There are certainly part-time neonatologists and those who do ER-type of shift-coverage of NICU's. This is common for those with small children at -home. Many of these neonatologists will later return to more full-time work. Part-time hours depend entirely on how much one wants to work. Usually one does either a 5 pm to 8 am shift or a 24-hour shift on a weekend day.

In terms of family-friendliness, there are others who could answer that better since I suspect you are looking more for a woman's perspective on this. Still, I know many female neonatologists who have successfully balanced this specialty with their families. I think it is probably hardest during fellowship when there is relatively less flexibility, but still, many women have a child while neonatal fellows.

In terms of likes and dislikes, there is no doubt that we neonatologists like the intensity and the opportunity to provide care for very ill children. Watching a baby go from critically ill to ready-for-discharge is worth a lot. It is NEVER boring or routine, although from the outside it might appear we do the same thing for everyone. For those interested in both pediatrics and the care of very sick, complex patients, neonatology,pedi cardiology and pedi ICU are the most common choice. Some of us also continue to like the opportunity to do some procedures (e.g. arterial lines in tiny babies) as part of our practice.

Those of us who do research also usually find this to be a very rewarding an enjoyable aspect of practice as is the education of medical students and residents in the care of babies. Academic neonatologists generally are less well-paid than those in private practice, but generally have fewer hours and more of a mix of research, clinical care and education. This is true of course, for many medical and pediatric specialties.

Dislikes - well, working all night gets a bit old as I get more than a few decades removed medical school....but, I think the harder thing is that we have to often deliver very bad news to parents, and that never becomes routine, although one develops a style and experience at it.

Feel free to PM if you wish more info.

Regards

"oldbearprofessor"
 
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TexasRose

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thanks for the thoughtful reply Oldbear.
 
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