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How being a dad has taught me to be a better doctor

Published on Jun. 15, 2022

I can easily say that being a father of four children is one of the greatest achievements of my life. Although they can be a real handful, they are sweet, loving, and unique in their own ways. Coming home to them at the end of the day is a major stress reliever for me and I’m thankful for that. One of the reasons I become a physician was I wanted to be able to take care of my family when they were sick. If I was not a physician, I would be asking myself, “could this be something worse,” which I feel is a thought that goes through parents’ minds when their children are sick. Just as I would want to be reassured that my child is okay, I want the families of the patients I take care of to feel the same way. When they leave, I want them to know that there is a plan in place and that they received the best care possible.

As I was finishing my third year of medical school, my daughter was born. My wife and I were elated. It was not until six hours later that she was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects, rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to be started on living-saving medications and transferred for open heart surgery with eventual pacemaker placement. I’ll never forget the pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon saying to me that my daughter may die. I can easily say that I have never been more terrified than that exact moment; I look back on it often when I am interacting with patients. It helps me understand where their fears and worries are coming from. I understand why they have so many questions about their child and it helps me be patient and understanding. It has prompted me take more time and care when explaining my logic and reasoning. It was actually that moment – along with the amazing care we received from the physicians, nurses, and staff – that made me want to become a pediatrician.

My son was recently diagnosed with severe dyslexia, combined attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. He requires an intensive school program and occupational, speech, and mental health therapies as well as private tutoring to help him succeed. Although my wife has managed this mostly, it has helped me understand the struggle of trying to obtain services for children that parents are facing. The daily pressures that these families are under trying to obtain services and coordinate care is very stressful and demanding. It puts medicine into a new perspective for me and makes me grateful for the care that I have received. It has made me more holistic when it comes to patient and family care.

If I had a chance to go back and redo medical school and residency, I wouldn’t change a thing. Having children and raising them has had a major impact on the way that I interact and treat my patients, and it has made me an overall more compassionate and caring pediatrician.


About the Author

Dr. Isaac Sergei Horowitzis a member of Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Class of 2022 and will graduate this month. He believes that empathy, approachability, and honesty are essential to building a bond between the patient and the physician. He dedicates this blog post to his loving children, Gabriel, Isaak, LuluBelle, and BirdieRose, and his amazing wife, Courtney. “Without her,” Dr. Horowitz says, “I wouldn’t have been able to succeed in medicine.”