Hi Cherilyn! Can you share a little bit on who you are, what you do, and a not-so-known fun fact about yourself?
My name is Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini and I’m a board certified pediatrician. I attended The Pennsylvania State University as an undergrad and majored in biology while minoring in psychology. From there, I immediately entered medical school and obtained my medical degree from Jefferson Medical College, now known as The Sidney Kimmel Medical College, which is located in Philadelphia, PA. I completed my pediatric residency training at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. I am currently living in New York, New York. A not-so-known fun fact about myself is that I can juggle and I performed this in my elementary school circus for several years!
What led you to the path of pediatrics?
My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with uterine oncology, which sparked my interest in science and pursuing a path in medicine. I absolutely fell in love with advanced placement biology in high school and I knew that the sciences were an area that I wanted to continue to explore. Later, I worked as a kindergarten camp counselor for multiple summers and enjoyed it very much. Connecting with the campers and with their parents was especially rewarding. Given this, as I continued down my career path, I felt that pediatrics was the perfect marriage of my interests.
What has been the most rewarding and most difficult part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my career has been the privilege to take care of so many children and to connect with them and with their parents or caretakers on a personal and professional level. Hearing “thank you” from a child or from a parent after relieving any fears he or she had by providing treatment or reassurance is irreplaceable. Working as a physician, specifically a pediatrician, can be challenging in numerous ways. Particularly long hours can feel challenging, especially when other important personal events are sacrificed on behalf of the career.
Sometimes we get too focused and stuck in our career roles. We are more than our chosen profession! How does knowing this and applying it to your life make for a richer, more fulfilled life?
For the longest time, I felt as though earning my medical degree and working as a practicing physician represented the most important things in my life. I had intended to pursue pediatric hematology/oncology and I actually participated in the match and was planning to complete fellowship at one of the top programs in the country. Ultimately, my priorities began to change and I completely upended my career path. Remembering that other priorities are sometimes equally as important, if not more important, than practicing medicine is truly key in ensuring that your life stays rich and fulfilled. There is so much more to life than medicine and to those who leave medicine temporarily or permanently, I hope they know that is perfectly okay.
I remember as a new grad occupational therapist back in the day, I had only worked on preparing my clinical skills. As a result of not developing any personal resources, I faced many challenges not knowing how to deal with stress. What is your approach to your own emotional wellness and how has that developed over time?
My approach to emotional wellness has entirely evolved. During residency, I was scrambling to find even a few hours during the week to unwind and I actually found myself somewhat isolated because of the business of my schedule and my low energy after working so many hours. I pour a lot of my energy into keeping up my social schedule now and striking a balance between alone time and social time. I always set aside time for myself to do what I love, whether it is reading a novel or completing a crossword puzzle. I’ve also owned a dog since medical school and he has certainly helped me feel happy even during times of stress.
If you could leave someone in healthcare with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Remember while you are taking care of others to always take care of yourself, too.
What is your favorite daily routine?
I absolutely love going to the gym, even if it is just for 40 minutes or so! I try to make it there every single day of the week. This also helps me de-stress!
Finish this sentence (I’m a Nittany Lion by marriage): We are…
What makes you your most lit up self?
Acknowledging all of my accomplishments and crediting myself for everything that I have overcome because there certainly have been plenty of obstacles along the way. Remembering my capabilities both within medicine and outside of medicine is something that truly makes me feel unstoppable and a feeling I want to help as many others obtain as possible!