Jennifer Carlson has wanted to be a pediatrician since she was a pediatric patient herself.
“If you ask my parents, they’ll say I talked about being a doctor for kids since I was 2 or 3 years old,” she says. “As a medical student, I kept my options open (during rotations), but I kept coming back to the kids. I really enjoy working with the whole family.”
She’s living the dream now, practicing in her hometown of South Burlington, VT, in the very practice where she was a patient all those years ago.
One thing she’s noticed in the eight years she’s been certified is that the number of overweight and obese children is increasing. She knows other pediatricians around the country and world are facing the same issue. It’s critical that she keep up with the latest information on how to assess and treat childhood obesity.
One specific way she chooses to stay on top of new information also helps her earn self-assessment (Part 2) Maintenance of Certification credit.
“I love Question of the Week (QOW),” an activity available through certified pediatricians’ ABP portfolio, she says. “It’s focused, quality-based information that’s relevant to what I’m seeing in my own practice.”
New questions are presented each week. Pediatricians are given a case study, followed by an abstract and commentary, then an assessment. A recent question dealt with bariatric surgery for an obese teen. Other questions involving weight have included blood pressure control, sleep apnea diagnosis and nutritional planning.
Other QOW items she has found intriguing include the pros and cons of fluoride toothpaste, timeliness of vaccinations and treatment strategies for behavior issues.
Maintenance of Certification activities give pediatricians some structure for keeping up with latest medical information and best practices, she says.
“I hope most of us would be diligent about keeping up with the latest information,” she says, “but it’s good to have a bar for us all to meet. MOC and the certification exams are one way to do that.”
The in-training exams (ITEs) she took during her residence at the University of Utah’s Primary Children’s Medical Center were very useful, she said. “The ITEs were a good way to measure what you knew and what you didn’t. It gave you a chance to work harder on your weaker areas.”
One of the things she loves most about pediatrics is getting to work with families to improve the health of children.
“It is a privilege to work with families as they try their best to make sure their children are healthy, happy and successful,” she says. “It’s really important to make sure families know how to get the support they need. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing more family support than practicing medicine. I enjoy that component, though, and you do what’s needed to help the children.”