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An unexpected but exciting prospect: From Surgery to Pediatrics?

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OdysseusMD

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Hey guys,

So, I'm applying this September (2017) for the Match. For the longest time I was interested in Surgery and Surgery only (with the hope of subspecializing in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery or General Pediatric Surgery). Nevertheless, as the next Match season approaches, I'm finding myself rethinking my choice of Surgery, mainly for personal reasons. Instead, I'm now excited about the prospect of Pediatrics!!! I could definitely see myself doing a Peds Cardiology or GI fellowship after residency. That said, I'm not sure whether I should try my luck applying to Peds since my CV is tailored towards surgery. In a nutshell, my credentials are:
2016 grad from European medical school, top of my class, 260+ on both steps , 4 subIs in the US at top tier institutions with Honors grades (Peds subI, Peds Surgery subI, Surg Onc subI, Gen Surg subI), extensive leadership experience, 15 publications (mostly in Peds Cardiac Surgery and Peds Surg Onc). Finally, in a few weeks I'm starting a Peds Surgery research fellowship at a major US academic hospital. What do you think? Should I go for Peds? Ideally, I'd wanna match at an academic place. If any current Peds residents or MS3-4 wanna weigh in on this one I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
 

OdysseusMD

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mvenus929 there is a very simple (and honest answer) to your question. I got into medicine to help sick children. I know I'd be genuinely happy if I got to do just that. However, I'm also really good with my hands and thus felt that Pediatric Surgery (esp Peds Cardiac Surgey), would be more fitting with regards to maximizing my potential. However, I recently found that interventional cardiology can be as exciting with regards to ''operative'' opportunities. So, the real question I asked myself was: ''Say I don't get fellowship trained. What would I wanna practice Surgery or Pediatrics? At that moment of clarity, the answer was apparent: Peds.'' Even so, I don't have any regrets, and maybe my surgery skills would be an asset if I were lucky enough to get into interventional cardiology training. I'm just trying to figure out if it's too late to change career paths. Thanks!
 

Step Up

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You might really like peds interventional or EP. Other than those subspecialties as a peds cardiologist you won't be "using your hands". You should rotate in peds GI, the cases they do are pretty boring and low risk compared to what the surgeons do. Consider peds critical care, they have procedures and lots of gratification with taking care of sick patients. Don't worry about how you would do with the peds match. I bet you would match at one of the top peds programs. I knew someone with a similar story, although not quite as impressive, medical school in Europe, and that person matched at Boston children's. Finally I hope you've strongly considered the lifestyle of being a peds surgeon or peds cardiothoracic surgeon. Both are amazing professions, but come at the price of life outside of work and are high stress.

If you do choose peds residency, you don't have to worry about not being able to match into fellowship. If you go to a strong peds residency, you will be able to match into any peds fellowship, no question. Personally, I knew I wanted to do a peds fellowship, and absolutely wouldn't want to do primary care peds.
 
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mvenus929

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With that answer, I think you'll be able to match into Peds. You just have to make sure you won't change your mind down the line.
 

SurfingDoctor

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Your application sounds like you have enough pediatric-related items so I wouldn't be concerned about that. You do need one pediatric letter of recommendation that isn't from a surgical sub-specialist, but otherwise, go for it.
 

OdysseusMD

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Thanks guys! I appreciate your input! Fingers crossed :)
 

dbeast

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Just a little practical advice- the pediatric interventional cards job market is not great right now, so even if you do get fellowship training in cath, you'll also have to spend a decent amount of time in clinic or attending on the cards consult service (at least that's how the interventional cardiologists at my institution do it). If your primary motivation is procedural medicine, then I'd say go with surgery, just because there are very limited procedures in pediatrics. After your surgery training, you can find a community hospital where you can take out some appendixes on healthy kids every once in a while. *However*, if you love working with kids more than you love operating, then peds is the right choice, especially since you sound like the academic type and peds subspecialties certainly lend themselves to academic practice.

Overall though, I definitely understand not doing peds surgery fellowship... at my institution, the peds surg fellows are PGY-9 through 11.
 

OdysseusMD

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dbeast thanks for the heads up. I actually enjoy clinic and working on a consult service etc. You're right about me being the "academic type". At least, I try to be :)
 

Stitch

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My wife switched from surgery to peds and has no regrets. She actually ended up doing a child abuse fellowship because she liked the forensic stuff. So I guess you never know where you'll end up. Occasionally she misses doing procedures and working with her hands, but she's very happy. Good luck!
 

ChipperChop

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Explain your change of heart in your personal statement and you should be fine despite your surgical cv. Follow your heart. You are certainly not the only person to change their mind
 
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