Life for most pediatricians used to be pretty well defined: you got up early and made hospital rounds on all your patients—mostly newborn babies and an occasional hospitalized child—before you went to see patients in the office.  Day in and day out, rounds were the rhythm of a doctor’s life. For many of us “making rounds” meant driving to more than one hospital to see everyone, so the day started early and was highly predictable, if a lot of work.  Most physicians trained in the era I was had been passed through the old residency system of hard hours (120 hrs/week) and teaching by humiliation.  This has --- thankfully -- disappeared into the past, but such training did mean that by the time we were no longer residents we were work hardened for life.

When I quit practicing general pediatrics I still made rounds every day, but on our eating disordered patients, who tended to have long, stressful admissions where the patients, staff and parents needed to be assured of our steady input.  Today most pediatricians no longer attend their own patients in the hospital, but rather leave their care to the hospital doctors, the “hospitalists”.  Continuing to make daily rounds three hundred and sixty five days a year is the commitment Dr Moshtael and I still make to our families.

You might be surprised to know that while some parents move heaven and earth to meet us each morning on rounds and discuss their own child’s care, some do not show up and others are vocally resentful that rounds are made “on the doctor’s schedule”.  Talk about different points of view!

One Christmas I got snowed in.  We had a little girl in the hospital, she was relatively stable.  Of course, we make rounds whether or not it is a holiday or our birthday, or our children’s birthdays or whatever, but this time, as I live out in the countryside, we were so snowed in that no one could leave or enter our place.  Dr Moshtael, who lives in town, despite being a young mother herself, came rushing in to do rounds for me.  And slipped on the ice.  And broke her leg.  She was in a great deal of pain and taken to the operating room within hours.  For two days we had to communicate about our patient by phone with the hospital doctors and allow them to help us.  The mother of our patient was very angry with us and felt we had “left her in the lurch”.  Talk about differing points of view!

But every morning, win lose or draw, one of us still gets up and heads to the hospital to make our rounds.  And when we see the faces of those kids waiting expectantly for word of their progress, it’s worth it.  It’s always worth it.