NEWS April 5, 2023

Doctor’s Note: April Newsletter Introduction from Dr. Sandy Chung


Read Dr. Sandy Chung’s April Newsletter Doctor’s Note to PHN members and make sure to subscribe to receive important updates and announcements from the network.

Dear PHN community,

I am writing this note while 36,000 feet up in the air flying from a recent AAP trip after meeting with some amazing pediatricians. In just the first ten weeks of my AAP Presidency, I have traveled over 23,000 miles and have met with so many wonderful people from around the country and the world.  Pediatricians everywhere are very similar in the best way possible. We are incredibly kind, gracious, spirited, and warmhearted.  We all care about infants, children, and adolescents and spend our careers helping families. 

We each also have a story that brought us to medicine and, more specifically, to pediatrics.  Do you remember when you decided you would become a pediatrician? Was there a mentor or role model who inspired you to become a doctor or to choose pediatrics? Or perhaps it was a specific patient encounter during medical school that helped you to decide that pediatrics was for you?

I knew I wanted to be a doctor since the fourth grade after a neighbor who was an OR nurse helped me with a project where I had to say what I wanted to be when I grew up. She suggested that I become a doctor and gave me a tongue depressor, an OR cap, and shoe covers for my presentation. She even let me borrow her stethoscope! I was enthralled and decided medicine was for me.

After I got into medical school and went through my rotations, I was drawn to pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, and obstetrics. A mentor who was a pediatric neurologist advised me to look at what each specialty did day in and day out as their “bread and butter” work. Then if I enjoyed that, it would be the best option for me. As someone who always loved being around children, that decided it! 

Pediatrics is generally a very happy profession. Even if children are sick they are resilient, enjoy play, and exude trust and joy.  I chose pediatrics because I could make a difference, not just for that child or adolescent, but also for the caregivers. In pediatrics, I could develop relationships with people and help solve problems while being privileged to serve as a trusted source of advice. 

I loved and continue to love being a part of the lives of families as their infants develop into toddlers who walk and talk, then become children who develop into adolescents, and then finally emerge as full-grown adults. Reflecting on why I was drawn to pediatrics reminds me why I do this every day.

Now that you have accomplished becoming a pediatrician, have you had a moment to reflect on why you did it? Was there someone who changed your path or helped you to decide why pediatrics was for you? Have you thought about how you can be that someone for a future pediatrician?

As you may know, we have a significant worsening shortage of pediatricians and pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists.  Who will take care of the future children?  We need more of us.

Now that you are a role model, can you inspire someone else to become a pediatrician? We each have the power to influence someone’s career choice. I would challenge each of us that to save our profession, we need to work together on this. If you work with medical students, explain why you went into pediatrics and what brings you joy in the profession. When we are talking to any child, adolescent, or young adult, including our patients, consider talking about why you love your job. Even better, you could make the suggestion, “You should become a pediatrician!”

Thank you as always for all that you do and all that you are. Together we will help to create a brighter future for children, adolescents, and their families.

Warmest regards,

Sandy Chung, M.D.
President of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Medical Director of the Pediatric Health Network