As a parent, I’ve always loved September.

  • Meeting the new teacher.
  • Dropping off one of my kids at a new school.
  • The simple joy of new school supplies.

In medicine, our “school year” is from July 1 through June 30. Each and every day there are patients who need care, and our students learn medicine by helping provide that care. There are no medical school “back-to-school” sales.

Dr. Stacy Nicholson and pediatric residents

But as a teacher, September never fails to bring me smiles. In September, most fourth-year medical students planning to pursue pediatric specialty training find their way to my office so I can interview them and write a letter of recommendation.

The intelligence, life experiences, enthusiasm and idealism that I see continually amaze me, and I know that Pediatrics will remain strong.

Some of these students have always known that they would be pediatricians. They have been camp counselors, or teachers, or they have parents or other role models who motivated them to work with kids.

Others came to medical school with other plans but were surprised by Pediatrics. They found themselves enjoying taking care of kids, working with families and/or being mentored by a great pediatrician.

This was my story.

I started medical school planning to be an internist in private practice somewhere in Appalachia. But then I experienced Pediatrics. It was my first clinical rotation, and I was blown away. The pediatricians immediately impressed me, but I was truly inspired by the kids. They are the world’s best patients! They just want to get better, play and go back to their home and school. As I went through all the other core specialties, nothing compared to Pediatrics in giving me joy and purpose. I found my home and mission – taking care of kids.

Each September I smile when I hear my story repeated – 30 years later.

H. Stacy Nicholson, M.D., M.P.H.
Credit Unions for Kids Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Physician-in-Chief, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital