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Tis the season, or rather, not the season. Every time mid-winter rolls around, pediatricians are inundated with viral illnesses causing breathing problems in little babes. For the past five years that I've been in a hospital in January, we are usually near capacity on the pediatric units and have dozens of babies who need a close watch on their breathing.

This year is a little different. With covid-19 and all the precautions (masks, social distancing) in place, the little babes just haven't been exposed to viruses like they usually are. Their older siblings aren't bringing home germs from school, the babies aren't going to play gyms or music classes, and parents aren't spending much time mingling with others, either. This is great for babies, families, and of course, our already overburdened medical system. The one group this may not be the best for is pediatric residents.

Ask any senior resident or attending who has been through "respiratory season" and you'll likely hear how they managed 20+ kids overnight for months straight. It was this first-hand experience where they learned invaluable skills on how to handle a baby who's respiratory status is declining. I've heard from many pediatricians- both new and experienced- who expressed some concern for this generation of interns and new seniors who just haven't seen the enough of these babies.

In response to this, I put together a "respiratory season checklist" of things that all interns should be able to do by the end of intern year. Save the picture to your phone and carry it around with you on the wards and in the ED. If you can't do one of these things, ASK! Find a nurse, senior resident, or respiratory therapist who does, and ask them to show you.

Get comfortable with the equipment. Get comfortable troubleshooting a kid who is desaturating. Most important, get comfortable knowing when and how to ask for help!

Can you think of any other things that should be on these checklists? Comment below or send me a message!


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