When I was first starting med school, I was Peds Girl. I was joined the Peds Club, I helped organize Peds Playroom in the hospital, and I loved kids. I was fiercely insistent on my future career choice.
Professor (who was also an orthopedic surgeon): "So what field do YOU want to do?"
Prof: "Christ, what a waste. You may as well become a veterinarian."
Prof: "You know you won't make any money in general peds."
Me: "I may specialize in pediatric endocrinology."
Prof: "They make even LESS."
Actually, I think if you do pediatric endocrinology, instead of getting a paycheck, they remove money from your bank account each month. So you really have to love it.
In planning my third year schedule, I took peds as my third rotation. If there's a specialty you think you really want to do, you're supposed to do it third. That way, you can decide early on if it's really for you, but it's not so early in the year that you're still a bumbling idiot.
Long story short, I'm not a pediatrician. I could say I hated the parents or that I had trouble looking in tiny ears, but really, it was that I couldn't deal with the sick kids... I mean, the REALLY sick kids. There was nothing more heartbreaking to me than an ill child. Even reading a fictional clinical vignette about a child with cancer ruined my day. It didn't matter to me that I was helping them or even saving their lives... I just couldn't bear it.
And now that I have a child, I am doubly glad that I made this decision. Every time I pass the peds floor in the hospital and hear children crying, I think of my daughter and my heart aches. Maybe I would have grown accustomed to it. I don't know. I'm grateful other doctors are able to distance themselves enough that they can do this kind of work.
Luckily, sick adults don't make me nearly as sad.