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Ira K. Schwartz

Ira K. Schwartz, MDName:

Ira K. Schwartz, MD


Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:

1972 - Union College (Schenectady NY); Biology

Medical School:

  • 1977 - Chicago Medical School
  • 1977-80 - Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago (Northwestern University Medical Center) 

In practice since:

1980…35+ years (seems impossible to me, but that’s what’s on my CV)

Your Specialty:


Where and for how many years did you train AFTER medical school:

  • 1980-81 – International Rescue Committee, Thailand
  • 1981-84 – Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta GA
    Epidemic Intelligence Service – Division of Parasitic Diseases
  • 1984-85 – Fellowship, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Chicago Hospitals

How did you choose your specialty?

My mother was a kindergarten teacher and I always felt comfortable around kids (especially and including when I was a kid, myself).  During medical school, I liked and identified with the pediatricians and pediatric residents whom I met and worked with.  In trying to understand my own personality and the varied activities involved in clinical care, I thought that I would enjoy--and learn to be competent--working with families; teaching children and parents about illness and wellness; and providing longitudinal care for kids.  Intellectually I was always intrigued by microbiology and infectious diseases, and it seemed that much of general pediatric practice is about preventing, diagnosing and treating kids with infectious illness. 

What do you like MOST, and like LEAST, about your specialty?

Much to my great surprise, I no longer practice general pediatrics.  Pediatrics at an academic medical center is very different than community-based pediatric practice.  But I have always enjoyed the challenge of the "unknown" -- seeing a new patient or a known patient with a new problem, and puzzling through the child, the child’s family, and the child’s medical and/or social problem.  I think that remains the challenge (and fun) of clinical pediatrics.

In talking with my pediatric colleagues—and congruent with the years I practiced at Grady sites—one of the biggest frustrations is the often limited time available for care of patients and families.  This is usually less of a problem for hospitalists or sub-specialists.

In your opinion, what attributes are important in anyone choosing this specialty?

  • Liking and being interested in kids and families
  • Curiosity
  • Kindness
  • Flexibility
  • Good humor
  • Facility in explaining medicine to lay persons
  • Optimistic view of life

Hobbies/special interests:

  • Reading (my family tells me that I have way too many books; I think they’re wrong)
  • Cooking
  • Occasional travel.  I lived for 2 years in Brussels, Belgium (I can fake conversational French); and lived for 2 years in Nairobi, Kenya (I can no longer even fake fluent Swahili).