Balancing the Two Worlds of Dr Watkin – Neonatologist and Pediatrician

Written By Sara Watkin

Balancing My Two Worlds: My, Dr Sara Watkin, Journey as a Neonatologist and Pediatrician in the Cayman Islands

In our lovely picturesque Cayman Islands, my medical journey has been an amalgamation of two vital specialties: neonatology and pediatrics. As Dr. Sara Watkin, Specialist Neonatologist and Pediatrician, I take huge pride in providing unique and essential medical care to our younger community. However, I’d like to shed light on my distinctive roles as a neonatologist and pediatrician, emphasizing how these two specialties differ and how I manage to balance both.

My Roles as a Neonatologist and Pediatrician:

As a neonatologist, my primary focus remains the intricate and delicate care of newborns, especially those born prematurely or critically ill. Neonatology, a field I have dedicated my career to, demands precision, a distinct type of knowledge, profound compassion and experience. It’s an intensive care specialty, where experience and judgment are critical to best outcomes. My dedication to this field resulted in me being Clinical Director for NICU in Nottingham City Hospital, a tertiary NICU in the Midlands in UK, and then on to Chief of Service at the immensely prestigious Neonatal Service at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

In my role as a neonatologist:

Intensive Care: I work in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), providing critical care to premature or critically ill newborns. These infants require specialized equipment and constant monitoring to ensure their survival and well-being. In many places, both neonatologist and pediatrician work in NICUs but it is the neonatologist that has the specialist training for the sicker or more preterm infants.

Respiratory Support: Premature infants often struggle with underdeveloped lungs, making it difficult for them to breathe on their own. My skills, alongside my colleagues and neonatal nurses, in providing respiratory support, including mechanical ventilation or surfactant therapy, are vital in ensuring these fragile infants thrive.

Nutritional Support: I meticulously oversee the nutritional requirements of newborns, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients to promote growth and development. This includes managing specialized feeding methods, such as intravenous lines for something called TPN, and specialized formulas.

Infection Control: Infants with fragile immune systems are particularly susceptible to infections. Expertise in infection prevention and treatment is crucial in safeguarding their well-being.

Developmental Milestones: I vigilantly monitor the growth and development of newborns, ensuring that any developmental issues are identified and addressed promptly.

Surgical Interventions: In certain cases, surgical interventions may be necessary to correct congenital defects or other medical issues in newborns. I work closely with pediatric surgeons to plan and execute these procedures with precision and then provide very careful support and follow up at this vulnerable time.


In my role as a pediatrician:

Simultaneously, I also practice as a pediatrician, caring for children from birth to adolescence. This dual role allows me to serve a broader range of patients and age groups, addressing various healthcare needs, including being able to literally provide a holistic view and care from extreme preterm through to adulthood. As a pediatrician:

General Healthcare: I provide routine check-ups, vaccinations, and general healthcare services to children of all ages, ensuring they receive comprehensive medical care. This includes both well care – the essential well-child checks as part of following growth and development, as well as sick care, including the acutely unwell child.

Preventive Medicine: I emphasize preventive medicine, focusing on wellness, growth and development, and addressing common childhood illnesses and conditions. Both neonatologist and pediatrician are focused on this but a neonatologist has to be especially adept at this aspect of pediatrics because ex-preterm infants have a higher rate of issues to identify. So much of what we do is enhanced by early identification and this is a big part of my pediatric role.

Long-term Care: My role as a pediatrician involves following children throughout their formative years, providing continuity of care and building lasting relationships with both the children and their families.

Balancing Act: Neonatology and Pediatrics

The distinction between these two roles is clear: my neonatology practice focuses on the most vulnerable newborns, while my pediatric practice encompasses a broader age range and a wider spectrum of healthcare services. Balancing these roles is both a privilege and a challenge, but it allows me to contribute to the health and well-being of our community at various stages of life.

In conclusion, my journey as Dr. Sara Watkin, Consultant Neonatologist and pediatrician in the Cayman Islands is a reflection of my commitment to the community’s health, from the fragile newborns in need of specialized neonatal care to the children and adolescents I care for as a pediatrician. My aim is to ensure that every child in the Cayman Islands receives the best possible medical care, regardless of their age, from the very first days of life and throughout their formative years.