What is your favorite thing about working with children?
I became a pediatrician because it’s fun to work with children at every age, from birth through the teenage years. I love being around the innocence and honesty of children. I am lucky to form ongoing relationships with my patients over several years and have the opportunity to help them learn to be healthy and happy. Teenagers present new challenges, but exciting ones. I’m always learning something new from my families. And when I learn new things, I can pass on that knowledge to others in similar situations.
How do you make people more comfortable as new parents?
I focus on reassuring parents that there’s not just one way to raise a healthy, happy baby. I try to get a feel for the parents’ mindsets and find out what their concerns are. With some parents, I’m just reassuring them that they’re doing a great job, and with others I’m helping to solve specific problems. Raising a baby is extremely demanding often in unexpected ways. I just try to be there for parents, answer all of their questions, and offer resources or more specific guidance when it’s needed.
What is a typical first infant visit like?
Often when parents first bring their baby in, they feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed. I simply sit down with them and have a conversation. We talk about the birth and how things are going so far, and we start get to know each other. Then, I examine the baby and spend as much time as the parents need answering their questions. I see them again in about a week, and then at one month. By the two month appointment, I feel like we already know each other pretty well!
How do you identify developmental problems?
Children are predictably unpredictable, and a lot of times my biggest challenge as a pediatrician is trying to differentiate between a late bloomer and a real developmental problem. It really is a fine line, and I go case-by-case.
If a family is concerned, we discuss the possibilities of what could be going on with their child and what we want to do about it. Our action plan will be individualized based on both the parents and my level of concern. Sometimes we will decide to wait three months to see how things progress, and sometimes we opt for early intervention.
I do see a lot of patients with developmental challenges, and we’ve seen the rate of autism rise dramatically over the past decade. I have two nephews with autism, and my daughter was a late bloomer. So from a medical and a personal perspective, I understand their concerns.
How do you make toddlers feel at ease?
I play with them; that’s really the main thing. Or if they’re anxious and crying, I hold off on interacting with them at the beginning, so that they have time to calm down and get used to their surroundings. Usually, when they see me talking to their parents, and we’re enjoying the conversation, they feel better. Then I explain to them what I’m going to do, often by first doing it on a stuffed animal they likely have brought to the appointment.
What is your advice for picky eaters?
I used to be a very picky eater, so I have some personal experience. It’s a good idea to look at what children are eating over the course of a week rather than a day or a meal and to focus on what they do eat, not what they don’t eat. It’s a phase that a lot of children go through, and over time it will improve. You really don’t see a lot of adults who won’t eat any vegetables. If you’ve established a healthy household and your children see you eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods, that’s a great start.
How do you approach visits with teenagers?
With teenagers, I just try to talk with them openly and honestly. I tell them in the beginning that our discussion is confidential, and I always try to be understanding and nonjudgmental.
I think it’s harder to be a teenager nowadays than it was when I was younger. It’s more stressful. So with my teenage patients, I try to assess self-confidence and mood as we talk. I think that if teens are confident in who they are, they’re less likely to have problems with drinking or drugs. With teenage patients I’ve known for years, I can often tell when something seems off, and if it is outside the range of typical teenage angst I will often refer to a therapist.
What do you like about Northwestern Children’s Practice?
I love the people with whom I work, both my colleagues and my patients. We’re a close-knit group here—the physicians and nurses—and this gives a real sense of community that makes families feel very comfortable. It’s nice that we can collaborate and bounce ideas off each other for optimal patient care. I think the practice is the perfect size; it’s big enough that we have appointments seven days a week, and plenty of availability, but small enough that families don’t feel like they’re just a number. They know who we are, and we know who they are. We can form close relationships.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a four-year-old daughter who takes up a lot of my time, but I love it because I get to relive my childhood with her. We go on a lot of adventures together. When I do have time to myself, I like playing tennis, seeing friends and family, and trying different restaurants. I’m also a big reader, and I love going to the movies.
About the Practice
What is your practice philosophy?
Our goal is to educate parents to help them raise healthy and loving children. We care for families from infancy through young adulthood, and we develop ongoing relationships with our families to provide personalized service and comprehensive care. We advocate for our families’ health through outreach, education, and involvement in the community.
What resources does the practice offer?
- New parents support group
- Brown bag series of lunch chats about family health and wellness
- Several lactation consultants available during routine well visits and for special consults
- Educational materials (many of which we have authored ourselves)
- Referrals to specialists at a variety of hospitals across Chicago
How do you handle sick visits and after-hour requests?
We have a walk-in clinic seven days a week. Parents can also call for a same day sick appointment. We refer parents to affiliated hospital-based clinics after hours. We also have an after-hours system, so parents know that someone will be available around the clock. In that way, we are available 24/7.
What is your practice policy on vaccines?
We understand that parents often have questions on vaccines, and as pediatricians we are here as a resource to provide education and outreach to families on the topic of vaccines. We strongly support the vaccine schedule of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC. Ultimately, we do not allow alternative vaccination schedules in our practice.