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Rising Stars: A Pediatrician Helps Children and Their Families

By Hannah Waight

A pediatrician at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates near Boston, Lisa has been practicing medicine for quite a while now. With a background in psychology, Lisa made the switch to medicine in her last year in college. She hasn't looked back since.

Name: Lisa Thayer
School: Harvard
Major: Psychology
Years Out of College: 10+
Title: Pediatrician
Company: Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates
First Steps

Lisa had majored in psychology and planned on going to grad school for it. At the end of her senior year, however, Lisa decided she wanted to go to medical school and stayed an extra year in college to fulfill her pre-med requisites. She went on to Harvard Medical School and a pediatric residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. Lisa practiced pediatrics on both coasts before ending up at the Harvard Vanguard medical practice in Boston, where she has been for the past ten years.

From Then to Now

Although both psychology and pediatrics deal with health and the human body, one might wonder why Lisa made the sudden switch during her last year of college. Lisa says that pediatrics appealed to her psychological interest in cognitive development as pediatrics deals a lot with figuring out what is normal and abnormal development. For Lisa, "the combination of scientific training and personal medicine" was particularly appealing in pediatrics.

Challenges Faced

There is no question about the biggest annoyance in Lisa's job: "Having to document everything. I hate it." In today's sue-happy world, doctors are forced to document everything as a precaution against dissatisfied clients. Furthermore, with the introduction of computers into the workplace, jobs that once used to be done by secretaries are now given to doctors. Because of her lack of comfort with computers, Lisa finds this part of her job particularly challenging. Lisa does say, however, that the younger, more technology-savy generation of doctors might not find this aspect of job as difficult.

My Experience

Don't expect to see what Lisa does on an episode of ER. Her typical work day is much more low-key. Lisa comments: "most of it is evaluating people and looking for...whether someone needs to be referred to a specialist...generally just trying to keep people well." The family atmosphere of her job makes the work even more enjoyable, and she can make a real, visible impact on people's lives. When talking about the biggest rewards of her work as a pediatrician, Lisa cited "being able to deal with a kid who's frightened, a parent [who's] frightened and get through that." Without a doubt, the work that Lisa does for her patients helps them to not only be healthier, but also find confidence with themselves and their care provider.

Next Steps

Lisa plans to stay on at Harvard Vanguard for the immediate future. She credits the exciting research projects that her colleagues are doing as part of her reason for staying--projects such as figuring out how to motivate families to stop the obesity are particularly interesting for Lisa. Lisa will continue to help children and their families, being both a care provider and role model. For Lisa, it is "a real privilege."

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