January 12, 2022

President’s Letter from Dr. C. Buddy Creech – My Peds ID Story

Tell me if this sounds familiar: a trainee, with their entire medical career ahead of them and in search of direction, asks how you came to choose a career in pediatric infectious diseases. Countless times, right? As the spate of recent superhero movies has taught us, that’s your cue for a (pediatric ID) origin story.

From as early as elementary school, I had a durable, if inauspicious, interest in being a pediatrician. My path from pediatrician aspirant to pediatric ID practitioner seemed like mostly “right time, right place” moments. But what if the right time, right place moments were less happenstance and more nudges through countless, seemingly ordinary experiences that gradually revealed how to best use my particular strengths and talents in medicine?

My wife will tell you that my interest in ID began to take shape during my fourth year of medical school, though I was unaware of it at the time. An internal medicine junior internship with Dr. Jim Dale (adult ID) and a pediatric ID elective with Dr. Keith English (pediatric ID) created excitement over differential diagnoses and matching infections with the most parsimonious treatment plan. When I asked one of the academic deans at my medical school (Dr. Joan Chesney, also pediatric ID), where I should go to residency, she replied, “Go to Vanderbilt, sit at Dr. Kathy Edwards’ feet, and learn as much as you can from her.”

I took her advice, and during the first month of my second year of residency at Vanderbilt, I rotated on the pediatric ID service with future ID physicians Dr. Terry Dermody (attending), Dr. John Williams (fellow), and Dr. Andrea Cruz (medical student at the time). I still remember many of the patients we saw together that month, including the one that we are fairly certain transmitted a tick to Dr. Dermody’s white coat.

Finally, during my third year, Kathy invited me to serve as a sub-investigator in a clinical trial of linezolid in pediatrics. She even sent me to the investigator’s meeting in San Antonio for further instruction. During fellowship, she showed me how to rigorously conduct clinical research, how to ask the right questions, and modeled what a career as a clinical investigator and mentor should look like.

So, why did I choose pediatric ID? I think it is because its people chose to invest in me. Their interest in me as a trainee opened avenues of opportunities that I may not have discovered on my own.

As members of PIDS, we should consider how best to encourage young trainees to explore their interests and talents and, ultimately, join our field. We would be well advised to:

  • Encourage students and residents to do rotations in pediatric ID
  • Invite trainees to participate in research projects
  • Invite members of our teams, medical students, and residents to attend ID meetings, such as St. Jude/PIDS and IDWeek

Above all else, share your story. You never know whether your voice may well be the one that acts as the catalyst for someone else’s pediatric ID origin story.

PIDS wants to hear your story too! Share with us at PIDS@idsociety.org or tweet using the hashtag #WhyIamPedID

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