Published on September 21st, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi0
Dr. Stephen Odzer: What Pediatricians Should Learn from Children
While it is obvious that children learn from adults, adults learn from children too. Dr. Stephen Odzer is a well-known pediatrician who has been in the field of pediatric medicine for decades. In a recent interview, he stated that all pediatricians can and should learn one or more things from interacting with children. Perhaps, this is what influences his approach of addressing his pediatric patients and not the parents when discussing diagnosis and treatment plans. While parents might want his attention, he believes it is important for a child to know what is happening and the plan in place to manage the sickness.
According to Dr. Stephen Odzer, adults need to be child-like. This does not mean being silly, immature or childish, but looking at the world from a child’s perspective. Below are some of the things that Dr. Odzer has learned from children and believes other pediatricians should learn:
Children have a great sense of wonder. Children are excited when blowing bubbles, chasing a balloon, playing on the street and even playing with their pediatrician’s equipment like a stethoscope. Dr. Odzer attributes being excited about his work to his interaction with children. When children visit his practice, they are excited about something despite being unwell. Seeing the little faces of his patients light up after learning something new about their bodies makes Dr. Odzer excited about going to work every day and being good at his job.
Children have a great need to figure out things and find out more information about them. They are always asking questions, which can sometimes be hard for adults to answer. Also, they love solving riddles and guessing games. It is from testing, investigating and exploration that children develop intellectual growth.
Over the years, Dr. Stephen Odzer has observed pediatric residents and medical students do as they are told by staff experts or seniors. This they do without asking questions. He believes all pediatricians should ask questions like “What should we do?”, “Why are we doing this?”, “Why is this child sick?” and many more. While practice guidelines and expert opinions are useful and important, pediatricians need to ask more questions.
Children are always learning and have a hunger for knowledge. While walking and talking are involuntary learning, voluntary learning like playing sports, dancing and riding bicycles is exciting and fun as is formal learning in school. Dr. Stephen Odzer advises pediatricians not to be comfortable with just the five to six years of pediatric training they have. Pediatricians can learn from their residents, students, and patients as well as families. There is always an avenue to learn from those around you, whether at work or at home.
Children show immense empathy towards animals and people even when their needs are not aligned with theirs. Dr. Stephen Odzer urges fellow pediatricians to have the same concern, caring and empathy for children as they had when they started their pediatric careers. This results from his observation that most pediatricians become somewhat cynical and hardened as they progress in their careers.