When Lawrence + Memorial Hospital started the region’s only Pediatric Emergency Program last year, everyone knew it would take some highly motivated doctors to build the program’s reputation.
Today, Dr. Lawrence Siew is doing just that – and in more ways than one.
First, and officially, Dr. Siew has been fellowship-trained in pediatric emergency medicine at Yale.
Beyond that, however, he brings to the job those intangible skills that don’t fit on a resume yet resonate with those who matter most: children and parents.
He is, for example, down-to-earth. (“Please,” he often says, “Call me Lawrence.”)
He’s funny. (“My wife is Michelle and we have a six-month-old boy, Patrick. Michelle works as pediatric neonatal dietitian, so we both work with kids as our careers. Yet, as mother and father, we often joke that we know nothing about children!”)
And, he’s also a self-proclaimed kid at heart:
“When I decided to go to medical school, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician,” he says. “There’s a sense in this job of the preservation of innocence. It’s a reward to see that smiling face and to do something for the child that can have a lasting impact. You’re making a difference in a life that has so much ahead of it.”
Dr. Siew grew up in New York City and New Jersey. He attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate, and then, for a time, because he loved biology and science, considered a career in the laboratory, doing bio-medical research.
“I thought I might get a degree in bio-medical science, but, concurrently with my time doing research, I did a lot of volunteer work at a hospital, and I got a sense that clinical medicine was really what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to take science and actually apply it to a patient.
“I found more joy in the volunteer experience and seeing what the clinicians did for the patients,” he continued. “It can get kind of lonely working in a lab, but as a doctor, every day you can make a difference in a person’s life.”
Dr. Siew earned his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His three-year residency was at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell, and he stayed on for a fourth year as chief resident. He finished his pediatric fellowship in emergency medicine at Yale this past July, and he’s been working at L+M since then.
Dr. Siew maintains his affiliations with Yale, but he said he is thrilled to be away from the silos of academia and to treat patients in a community setting, adding that “80 to 90 percent of children are seen in community hospital settings, but the greater majority of doctors with pediatric ER training are at major children’s hospitals, so the opportunity to do this at L+M is very special.”
Dr. Siew says it is his pleasure to work with Dr. Katherine Hesse, who is the medical director of L+M’s Pediatric Emergency Program, as well as the entire Emergency Services team.
“It’s been an incredible experience being here as a new attending physician,” he says. “Having never been at a community hospital like this, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in terms of the kids we take care of and the staff I work with. Everybody is incredibly enthusiastic about the vision of what we’re trying to do here.”
Dr. Siew says he believes L+M’s pediatric emergency program is building a reputation as a place to bring your children.
“We’re trying to earn the trust of the community’s pediatricians,” he says. “Nothing’s more important than having the trust of the community – to have people know that we provide good quality care, and, if it’s ever beyond the scope of our abilities, we’ll send them to the right place.”
Dr. Siew has had a lot of positive feedback in his short time at L+M.
“It’s a pleasure to come to work,” he said. “As this program grows, there will be continued enthusiasm, and I look forward to those times.”
Outside of his professional life, Dr. Siew says his biggest hobby these days is “changing diapers.” But, on a serious note, he adds:
“Having become a father, my son is my greatest teacher in terms of being a pediatrician. I thought I knew kids to some degree before having a child, but only when you become a parent do you fully understand what parents go through,” he said.
And, he continues: “if I have a patient encounter, and my son has gone through the same thing, it’s nice to have the personal experience, and be able to say, ‘This is what happened to my son, and it’s going to be OK.’”
Of course, being an emergency doctor of any kind inevitably comes with some heartbreaking days and trying times.
“On those days,” Dr. Siew says, “you go home and you hug your family a little tighter.”
To learn more about Dr. Siew, click here.