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Day in the life of a pediatric oncologist?

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pigglewiggle

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Hi,
I am very interested in pediatric oncology. I was wondering what the day in the life of a pediatric oncologist is like. Is it really hard emotionally? Are the hours bad? Is the pay better than general peds? I heard that you have to do a 3-yr fellowship on top of the pediatric residency. I am thinking of having children during that time and was wondering if the fellowship hrs were bad? thanks!
 

DoctorWannaBe

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Hi,
I am very interested in pediatric oncology. I was wondering what the day in the life of a pediatric oncologist is like. Is it really hard emotionally? Are the hours bad? Is the pay better than general peds? I heard that you have to do a 3-yr fellowship on top of the pediatric residency. I am thinking of having children during that time and was wondering if the fellowship hrs were bad? thanks!

I'm a fourth year student so don't really know what it's like to be a Peds Oncologist, but I did a Peds Heme/Onc rotation so I give some insight to your questions. At my school, the hours are pretty bad for the Peds Oncologists. They take turns covering the inpatient service are on for a week at a time, in addition to their regular outpatient clinic duties. During that week, they are on call 24/7 from home. They have to come into the hospital for every admit even during the middle of the night, and they round on the inpatients for those 7 days. The hours were pretty long when I was on (8 or 9 am until 7 or 8 pm). Then they are off for three weeks during which time their clinical responsibilities include their outpatient clinic, writing chemo orders for all their patients, and research. My perception is that when they are on they don't have a life, but when they are off service it is more relaxed.

As for the emotional aspect, you do grow close to your patients because you spend so much time with them, so if they pass away or have bad outcomes I imagine it is very hard. However, I think that the survival rates are good for a lot of peds cancers so hopefully you don't have too many kids dying. On my month of Heme/Onc, we never lost a patient, but there were many sad cases, so it was more difficult emotionally than some other rotations I've done.

As for the pay, one of my attendings said he doesn't make much more than general pediatricians, but I don't know exact numbers.
 

kidsoncdoc

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I'm glad you asked about the daily life of a pediatric oncologist before making a decision about post-residency training. If you're interested, you can take a peek at my blog to get an idea of what my life as a pediatric oncologist is like. No day in my life is ever the same as any other day. Some days are very hard, like when a patient dies (http://doctordavidsblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/when-my-patients-die.html), but other days are great, like when one of my patients does better than we had expected (http://doctordavidsblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/story-of-k.html). What I can say without hesitation is that for me, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life than this.

In terms of training, you're right, the requirement is a 3-year fellowship after residency. How hard is that? That depends on how busy the training program is... for some, it's as hard as doing a second residency, but for some programs it's not that bad. I had a child when I was an intern (I'm male, so a woman's experience will be different than mine was) and two more during fellowship, and it was manageable.

I'd be more than happy to discuss my career choice in more detail... just email me.
 
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