A Pediatrician’s Top 10: 2010 in review

I love "end-of-the-year" lists.  As I think about my own 2010, here are 10 highlights from my year as a general pediatrician. 1.  Favorite quote from a 4-year-old. I was listening to a mother explain why she brought her 4-year-old darling daughter to my office.  The mother told me that during the previous evening, her daughter had terrible belly pain.  After reviewing the history and examining her daughter, it seemed the pain was caused by excessive gas.  By the time of our clinic visit, the pain had fortunately subsided on its own.  After the relief of discovering the pain was not caused by anything serious, the mother was chuckling as she added to the story, “as [my daughter] was rolling around on the floor, grabbing at her belly, she was yelling, 'Something is wrong, Momma! Google it, Google it!'"

2.  Coolest gadget of the year:  the iPad. I have been amazed at the application this device has in my daily practice.  I send referral information to a parent's inbox at the point of care.  I use educational apps to entertain my patients, while assessing developmental skills.  I log on to teenager's Facebook accounts to be sure they have adequate privacy settings.  I make real-time adjustments to our practice's Facebook and Twitter accounts to pass along relevant information to our patient families.  I can pull up information on the web that may be disturbingly incorrect, to set the record straight with my families.  And, with new apps and technologies coming everyday, I can't wait to see what else will come in 2011.

3.  Favorite quote from a 5-year-old. A 5-year-old was telling me about her new kindergarten class.  I jokingly asked her if she already had a boyfriend, as I playfully winked towards her mother.  My patient confidently replied, “Yes, I have 3.”

I questioned, “Three?”

“Yes, Owen in my class, Daddy, and Batman.”

4.  Favorite medical news stories of the year. Retraction of the Lancet paper associating the MMR vaccines with autism.  Concussion awareness.  Decreasing antibiotic use. Vitamin D and iron supplementationPCV 13 released for increased protection against serious bacterial infections.  Mumps and pertussis outbreaks in our country.  Medical reform.  Changes in breast cancer screening guidelines.  The tragedy of the victims, and the triumph of the relief effort volunteers after the Haiti earthquake.

5.  Best "lost in translation" conversation with a 2-year-old. I asked a sweet 2-year-old why she had come to my office.  She quietly replied, "I ate an apricot."

"An apricot?" I said.

"No, I ate an apricot," as she pointed to my face.

Her mother kindly provided the translation, "I think she got a paper cut."

"Ohhh, I can fix that."

6.  Uncertain times continue in 2010. The economy continues to effect my practice, often in unexpected ways.  A few families had to relocate to new cities in order to stay employed.  Although I am saddened to see them leave my practice, I am fortunate to keep up with them through social media, as well as the wonderful Christmas cards they send.  As families leave, however, new families are moving to our area.  Infants are creating new families every day.  I have met some very cool, interesting families this year.  I am looking forward to developing meaningful and fruitful relationships them all.

7.  Favorite quote from a pre-teen. I was asking a rambunctious 11-year-old to name the school subject in which he performed the best.  He replied, “Well, I’m doing really good in Religion class... That’s really surprising.”

8.  Favorite unexpected quote of the year. I use my iPad during clinic visits, using simple game apps as developmental screening tools.  I was testing a 4-year-old on her problem-solving and writing skills by having her trace some letters on the iPad.  I turned my back to the young girl so I could talk with her mother.  I did not realize that while I had my back turned, my patient had completed the task I had given her and was scanning my iPad for other activities to complete.  Suddenly, I heard, "Awesome.... Angry Birds!"

After passing 5 levels of the game, I determined her problem-solving and fine motor skills were certainly right on track.

9.  This past year, I celebrated another healthy year for our daughter in February, as well as another year of marriage and the birth of our second child in May.  I also celebrated the life of my grandfather, who passed away in October.

10.  The year of the Blog.  This was the year when our practice jumped into social media with two feet.  It has been quite the adventure to organize and maintain this venture.  So many parents have had positive and encouraging comments regarding this fledgeling blog.  Thanks for the support and the simple gestures, they certainly keep me writing and sharing.

I had a wonderful 2010, looking forward to even more joys in 2011. Cheers!