My Calling: Experiences in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine

For Sharon T. Thomas, MD, being a physician is more than a career, it’s a calling. As a pediatric critical care specialist, she cares for infants, children and adolescents who are severely or critically ill. Dr. Thomas shares her thoughts and experiences working at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital in the Q&A below.

What drew you into a career in health care in the first place?

I have wanted to be a physician since I was about 4 years old. I was interested in science and especially fascinated by how the human body works. I admired my pediatrician for his vast knowledge and compassion. I desired to be a part of this noble profession, which combines art and science to improve the human condition.

What helped you through the pandemic?

I am surrounded by amazing colleagues who rose to the challenges despite the uncertainties. I am so fortunate to be part of a group of dedicated physicians who are always willing to help our colleagues beyond our specialty of pediatric critical care medicine. I kept in mind that my years of education and training prepared me to be flexible and take care of people, especially during difficult circumstances. I focused on how my patients and their families depend on me to be there to care for them. Most importantly, my faith in God keeps me grounded during difficult times and my family is always cheering me on.

What will you always remember from the past two years?

One of the moments from the height of the surges that stuck with me occurred toward the beginning when the hospitals were beyond capacity and we did not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to follow even basic protocols for the diseases we know, let alone the new one we were dealing with. As hospital staff, we knew we were potentially putting ourselves at risk to care for the patients who so desperately needed us. I was rounding on my patients and we were all wearing the same masks and gowns for days on end. I thought about my colleagues who practice in countries that are not as resource-equipped and how what we were experiencing as a shock was a daily occurrence for them.

What inspires you to continue with your career?

My patients inspire me. I see being a physician as my calling. Becoming a physician takes a long time, and can be very challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding. It is an honor and a privilege to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable. I have never wanted to do anything else and continue to love my job.

My learners inspire me. I had some incredible educators and mentors in medicine, so I find it important to participate in the education and training of medical students and physicians during their residency and fellowship training.

My hope for a better future inspires me. I am also in a unique position to broaden the perception of what a physician looks like. The look on the face of a child who has never seen a doctor who looks like them is priceless. I love that I can inspire future medical doctors.