Dr. Marion Mass is a pediatric hospitalist practicing in Sellersville, Pennsylvania at Grandview Hospital. Dr. Mass received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Pennsylvania State University and her M.D. from Duke University in North Carolina. She completed an internship at Northwestern University Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Mass has been a member of the Pennsylvania Medical society and is a member of the American Health Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Mass has received several scholarships including full rides to both Duke and Cornell Universities.
When did you first decide to become a doctor? Why?
I first decided to become a doctor when I was in fifth grade. At first I had wanted to be a lawyer, but quickly got turned off to that idea after witnessing a lawyer defend a guilty criminal on television. I had always had a passion for science as a kid. Going to school was something I found enjoyable and I knew that it was something I wanted to continue. I also like decision making and knew that I had the attitude of a doctor. I loved bonding with and taking care of patients and I wanted to treat people that needed help.
How did you choose the medical school that you attended?
I found the campus at Duke to be stunning, and I loved the story behind the formation of the school. Of course the full ride helped too!
What surprised you most about your studies in medical school?
Coming from Penn State to a great school like Duke, I was worried that everyone would be way too intellectual for me to relate to them. I had pictured everyone there to be absolutely brilliant, but upon arrival, I found that not to be entirely true. Also, I learned that true hard work really applies to medical school. It isn’t like high school where certain students can get by without studying, or doing their homework; you really have to work extremely hard to be successful.
If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a pediatric hospitalist?
Yes. However, I do know people that chose the medical field for their careers and are now scrambling to get out. I am financially secure with the help of my husband’s income as a surgeon and that allows me to continue my job and take care of my children at the same time. If I had to work full time to support my family I would have to say no, I wouldn’t do it all over again. Spending time with my family is the most important thing to me.
Has being a pediatric hospitalist met your expectations? Why or why not?
Yes, my schedule is very flexible which leaves me enough time to spend caring for my family and enjoying my hobbies.
What do you like the most about being a pediatric hospitalist?
I like patient interaction and being able to bond with those who I am caring for. I enjoy the “rush” of caring for sick patients and the feeling of being able to help those who need it and improving lives.
What do you like least about being a pediatric hospitalist?
Government intervention. I don’t like how the government is setting guidelines and intervening, trying to tell me how to do my job. I find it much more stressful to work in ways that I feel are less effective than the ways I prefer to work. In addition to that, I also hate making parents cry when I tell them something that they don’t want to hear.
What was it like finding a job in your field? What were your options and why did you decide to do what you did?
My husband, who works as an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, got his job first. This was important to us because in a specialized field like his, there must be a need for a doctor of his kind in the area. Then once his job was secured, I called around and looked for a job as a hospitalist in several different hospitals and took the offering that was most suitable to my needs. I didn’t find the process that difficult.
Describe a typical day at work.
Well, first I will usually go to the emergency room to assess patients on their condition to see if they need to be moved to a more specialized care unit. I spend a great deal of time communicating with my nurses and letting them know what I am going to do. I also spend a lot of time speaking with parents concerning the condition of their child. It’s not uncommon for me to do a spinal tap or two on an average work day. I spend much time inputting information into computers that hold electronic medical records. We are not permitted to write out orders anymore; I find it irritating that it takes me around five times the amount of time to input the information into the computers. And sometimes I am called to C-sections to take newborn babies that need immediate assistance if something is wrong.
On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours of sleep do you get per night? How many weeks of vacation?
I work one 12-hour night shift on Monday nights and one 8-hour day shift on Tuesdays and that’s it for the week. On average I get about 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night. I get 3 weeks of vacation and an extra week if I do a service project.
In your position now, what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
I would tell myself that I made a smart decision choosing not to work full time. Keep at it, and always keep your options open. Look for other options in work as well in case you need to leave medicine.
What info/advice do you wish you had known when beginning medical school?
You can’t do it all and at the same time do well. Family life will suffer if you plan to do too much at once.
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I am heavily involved in the upcoming election and would like to roll back Obamacare. I am also involved in my children’s school district where I help spread healthy ideas and information to students through talks and the organization of outdoor projects. I also am currently teaching two students at the University of Pennsylvania.
Do you have family? Do you feel you have enough time to spend with them?
Yes, and I have plenty of time to spend with them. Other doctors that I work with do find this to be a problem though.
Do you have any advice for students interested in pursuing pediatric medicine as a career?
Make sure you know what you are getting into. Spend as much time as possible shadowing and speaking with doctors to get an idea of what kind of life it is. Read articles like these and always challenge yourself, but never attempt to take on more than you can handle.
How do you spend your free time?
I enjoy gardening, cooking, running, and volunteering.
From your perspective, what is the biggest issue in health care today?
The biggest issue would be the fraudulent notion that Obamacare will fix medicine when it will only do it harm. Also, we need to do something about the lawyers who relentlessly pursue physicians.
Do you feel that your training prepared you well for what you do?
Yes, for sure. I feel Duke prepared me for everything I encountered.
Where do you see your field in ten years?
In my opinion, it really depends on the election and if we do something meaningful to save medicine.
How much do you find yourself thinking about your job when you are not working?
Generally, not much, but it really depends on whether or not there is a problem with a patient, in which case I will call the hospital to check on him or her. Also, if there is a lawsuit on my mind it can be very stressful. Thankfully, nothing has ever happened to my husband or me, but I do know other doctors who say it was the most stressful experience they have ever gone through.