Resident life blog

February 2015 - Pediatrics - the career path of caring, questioning and smiling

by Stefanie Reed, D.O.
Pediatric chief resident

I was recently out to lunch with some friends and the topic drifted to alternative careers – ‘the fallback plan’. Everyone had something to offer up – from chef or event planner to author and writer. When it was my turn I thought really hard. I enjoy a lot of hobbies, but I  honestly couldn’t name a single career I would rather have than being a doctor. That’s because I’m already living my dream job. You see, since I was able to talk I was telling people I wanted to be a doctor - I wanted to help people - and I wanted to make them smile.  That’s not to say that I didn’t try my hand at a few other jobs along the way. I find myself laughing when people ask what I did before I became a doctor. You name it - and I’ve had a job doing it! I’ve been a teacher, coach, candy-maker, mechanic, waitress, janitor and … the list goes on. Sometimes I evenwore more than one of those hats at a time. Each of those opportunities to learn taught me a new set of invaluable skills that I use today as a physician.  

There is no concrete explanation for my young discovery of a medical career. No one in my family was a doctor and my parents (while very encouraging) would have been happy with any career that supported me and made me happy. From the very beginning – I just knew. I remember getting a ‘doctor’s’ bag when I was no more than 3-years-old; I would run around taking blood pressure, listening to hearts, and prescribing my signature cure – a hug. Once my sisters were born I had my own built-in patients – I would mix up special concoctions in the kitchen and (safely!) paint them with injuries to repair. To this day, I’m amazed that they still talk to me! What my sisters didn’t know, was that all those years spent caring for them and other neighborhood kids, pointed me down a path of caring, questioning and smiling – otherwise known as pediatrics.

When I started my residency at Children’s hospital of Richmond at VCU I knew right away that I was where I was supposed to be. Even on the hard days – I went home fulfilled. Now here I am, all these years later, still curious, excited about work, and proud to see the smiles on our patients’ faces.