Dr. Stefanie Reed is a pediatric chief resident at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
I was recently out to lunch with some friends and the topic drifted to alternative careers – ‘the fallback plan’. Everyone else had ideas – from a chef or event planner – to an author. When it was my turn I thought really hard. I enjoy a lot of hobbies, but I honestly couldn’t name a single career I would rather have than being a doctor. That’s because I’m already living my dream job. You see, since I was able to talk, I’ve been telling people that I wanted to be a doctor. That’s not to say that I didn’t try my hand at a few other jobs along the way. I find myself laughing when people ask what I did before my residency. You name it – and I’ve had a job doing it! I’ve been a teacher, coach, candy-maker, mechanic, waitress, janitor and… the list goes on. Sometimes I even wore more than one hat at a time, but each of those opportunities taught me a new set of invaluable skills that I use today as a physician.
There is no concrete explanation for the young discovery of my career path. No one in my family was a doctor and my parents (while very encouraging) would have been happy with any career that supported me and made me happy. From the very beginning – I just knew. I remember getting a doctor’s bag when I was no more than 3-years-old. I would run around taking blood pressure, listening to hearts, and prescribing my signature cure – a hug. Once my sisters were born I had built-in patients – I would mix up special concoctions in the kitchen and (safely!) paint them with injuries to repair. To this day, I’m amazed that they still talk to me! What my sisters didn’t know, was that all those years spent caring for them and other neighborhood kids, pointed me down a career path of caring, questioning and smiling – otherwise known as pediatrics.
When I started my residency at Children’s hospital of Richmond at VCU I knew right away that I was where I was supposed to be. Even on the hard days – I went home fulfilled. Now here I am, all these years later, still curious, excited about work, and proud to see the smiles on our patients’ faces.