By Shahrzad Mohammadi, MD
1. Why did you choose Stamford Health?
I was a pediatric hospitalist at Columbia’s NICU before I developed my relationship with Stamford Health. After having my child, by necessity, I had to find work closer to home, and Stamford was a logical choice for a busy mother. Well that was 20 years ago! Despite having other work opportunities, I have stayed at Stamford Hospital because of its visionary leadership with strong commitment to the health of our local population, especially needs of children. Thanks to the tireless work of people like Dr. Rakos and Mr. Grissler, we now are blessed to have a pediatric ED and the new pediatric inpatient unit which just opened its doors in October 2017. Wow!
2. What made you become a pediatrician?
When I started medical school, I had a passion for basic science research. Cancer medicine fascinated me, especially because I saw my own uncle rapidly deteriorate from pancreatic cancer, but I fell in love with pediatric medicine in my third year of medical school. One night, after my pediatric rotation had ended, I went to visit the little boy that we had admitted for care and monitoring for child abuse previously. As I held that child in my arms, my heart spoke to me ,“This is where you belong.”
3. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Patients who are hospitalized these days tend to be sicker, as their pediatricians are doing a great job keeping them healthy and out of hospitals. As a result, my patients tend to be more challenging. I love the intellectual aspect of my work. I am always reading up on conditions and treatments; there’s not a day that goes by without me having to look up medical information. Also, by virtue of taking care of hospitalized patients, I form very close relationships with patients and their parents. For me there is a tremendous reward in being needed and helping to soothe and comfort anxious families. Lastly, I get to play and sing with my patients, get rewarded with smiles from kids who even when they are really sick muster up a smile and say to me, “I am good!” Who can call that work?
4. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job in general?
Care of the adolescent patient still remains a great challenge for all of us as pediatricians. It’s an unusual day for me not to see a young person struggling with a mental health disorder, substance abuse, unstable family situation, bullying, sexual abuse, or a combination of these difficulties. It’s a great burden for their families, too. Sadly, we still don’t have quick fixes or remedies for these problems, either.
5. What have your patients taught you over the years?
I have learned many lessons from caring for families. What has been confirmed over and over again is listen to the parents and never disregard parental concern. They are the “pediatric expert” at home. I also have learned that parental advocacy gets results. Thank God for parents who push and push tirelessly until they find a way to get services and care they need for their kids. This makes a great difference in the outcome of even some very terrible conditions that unfortunately some of our children face.
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