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How to find your niche and embark on a career in pediatrics :

September 18, 2020












Editor's note: For more coverage of the 2020 AAP Virtual National Conference & Exhibition, visit

Launching a career in pediatrics can feel like hitting the open road without a navigation app. While exhilarating, it also can be overwhelming, especially after spending years in the task-oriented environments of medical school, residency and fellowship training.

“You have to, at some point, figure out how to get beyond the tasks and grow yourself as a career person,” said Bree L. Andrews, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, associate professor at the University of Chicago. “You have to say this is bigger than the tasks on your to-do list today. And that’s very challenging in the beginning.”

Dr. Andrews helps trainees and new graduates develop a professional development plan during a session titled “Ways to Start a Career in Pediatrics,” which can be accessed via the virtual platform through Jan. 31, 2021.

A neonatologist, Dr. Andrews has served as a fellowship director and educator for fellows. She’s found it helpful to have trainees and new graduates focus on five areas:

  • developing a niche/elevator pitch,
  • finding a mentorship team,
  • time management,
  • staying current in the literature and
  • becoming adept at publication/writing.

“These are five things you can do as you walk away from this session in the next six months that might really help you take some of the burden off early career life and the anxiety that comes with it,” she said.

During the session, she presents a framework for each area and then suggest exercises viewers can do on their own.

When talking about time management, for example, Dr. Andrews discusses how to identify high-quality time and low-quality time in your day, week, month and year, as well as high-quality tasks and low-quality tasks. Then, she explains how to move high-quality tasks to high-quality time and low-quality tasks to low-quality time.

“I want you to really spend your highest quality time on those things that you really pride, either in your career or in your home life,” she said. “All the others, put them on a small to-do list. Do them quietly while someone is giving a lecture you don’t care about.”

Dr. Andrews also encourages attendees to identify the types of patients that intrigue them, their specialized interests and how they best can use the time early in their careers to flesh this out.

“All of us have to be good at a subset of basic medical practices, procedures, medical knowledge within our field,” she said, “but what I think makes it exciting is the passion.”

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