Meet Dr. Dave Aughey, MD, medical director of adolescent medicine.
What drew you to adolescent medicine? This will sound cliché, but I was quite ill as a pre-teenager. My recovery overlapped with the magical time of puberty, and it was an emotional and a physical transformation. From this time on, I knew I wanted to work with teenagers. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a pediatrician or a psychologist. I was drawn to Adolescent Medicine because I could do both.
Are there any trends you’re seeing right now in adolescent medicine and, if so, what are they? Nationally, about 600 pediatricians are certified as Adolescent Medicine specialists. In the last 10 years, only about 225 of these have gone through the three-year post-residency training and certification. Most of these pediatricians practice in academic centers and not in community settings. The field is struggling to find its niche and to attract new practitioners. The good news is that adolescents are now being recognized as having unique health needs, which are best served by a “psychosocial” care model. This model embraces the “health” needs of adolescents and young adults, not just the physical dimensions. Many other primary care providers also now recognize these special needs and are effectively providing care and guidance.
What do you enjoy most about your job? I view myself as a pediatrician who specializes in being a primary care provider for adolescent and young adult patients and their families (and sometimes their friends). I have opportunities to be a dermatologist, counselor, gynecologist, sports medicine doctor, psychiatrist or pediatrician on any given day. I really enjoy being able to provide this range of care to patients. It makes relationships with patients and families very rich and gratifying.
What is your favorite memory from working at Children’s? After 25 years, it’s impossible to pick a favorite memory. I’ve had the honor of working with extremely compassionate and caring colleagues. Patients have been inspiring, especially those who overcame challenges and adversities that would have bewildered me. I remember patients who proudly shared their accomplishments with me. Former patients who’ve brought their babies to show off. Patients who’ve stopped me on the street. “You don’t remember me, but….” These memories are all warm and heart-felt.
If you weren’t working in medicine, what do you think you’d be doing? My fall-back plan early on was going to be that I would run a hardware store. In retrospect, given the emergence of the big boxes, that would have not gone well. I still would love to teach high school and be around adolescents in another capacity. In the deepest, darkest corner of my soul, I dream about being a woodworker or a dancer. Or a photographer. Or maybe an engineer…