The weather in Delhi is turning again (doesn’t the weather God have babies???) & it’s tough to decide whether its winters or summers. In the morning the sun shines bright & you think of packing away the woollens, but then the evening brings sudden showers & it’s misty and foggy again. I and a lot of my friends have kids suffering from viral fever, sore throat, conjunctivitis and what not.
Children take up to 5 years to build a strong immunity system. As parents we can do our bit by ensuring breast feeding for at least a year, slowly exposing the kids to uncontrolled environment to naturally build their immunity, and home-grown methods to boost immunity, but that’s about it. The body’s immunity will take its own time to develop. BUT, we send kids to pre-schools at as early as 2.5 yrs and subject their fragile under-developed immune systems to a plethora of bugs! So, be prepared for some teething problems. The only upside is that the immunity build faster when exposed this way.
What this means for parents to young kids is close encounters with a pediatrician. So when struck by a bug, we turn to our trusted pediatrician. I feel, in today’s time, the role of a doctor, especially a pediatrician has to evolve.
As an aware and eager parent, I expect our pediatrician to play the role of a doctor, with all the right facts & medicines, but also of an advisor who can guide with do-able & practical parenting advice. It is very easy for a doctor to say children should not be given any weight gain & immunity supplement, but ask the parents of an under weight child who is a picky eater? Doctors ask you to let a fussy eater go hungry till he asks for food, to build a healthy eating habit. But it is very tough for parents to follow this.
I expect him/ her to be available and empathetic on a phone call. I was raised to respect & treat doctors as next to God, since they have the power to heal. I look up to them & have complete faith in them, which makes me expect the doctor, especially a pediatrician (since they treat tender & the most vulnerable patients, who can’t express themselves) to be more empathetic & easy to contact. As first time parents we had actually changed 5 doctors before we settled on our current pediatrician, only because we didn’t feel they were empathetic or approachable enough. Being a qualified & effective doctor is a hygiene requirement, but the one who reassures you and guides you at the time of need, is the one we finally settled on, and remain with for the past 4 years.
I expect him/ her to be communicative. We are educated & aware parents & we ask questions & use information to make our decisions. Why should it change when we face a doctor? A doctor friend practising in UK tells me that they have to undergo training in communication, so that they can work together with the patient and share information to enable him to make the right treatment choices.
I would expect a pediatrician to be even more communicative as parents are one anxious lot!
Lastly, they should be able to make a connection with the child. Yes, the child is your final consumer, and the benchmark of your success. If you are able to soothe/ talk to/ reassure a cranky unwell kid, they won’t be dragging their heels when the car approaches the clinic.
You may say I have an impossibly long & unreasonable list of expectations, but I know I am not alone in my thinking.