MD-UPDATE: Please give us a brief synopsis of your medical training, your background and current practice.
I graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1990, and did my pediatric training at Kosair Children’s Hospital. After one year as a staff pediatrician at Audubon Hospital in Louisville, Ky., I opened Physician Associates of Floyds Knobs, LLC in 1995 with Dr. Dan Eichenberger and five staff. We grew the practice to six physicians and a nurse practitioner and 35 staff before selling it to Floyd Memorial Hospital in 2013. In October 2016 Floyd Memorial was sold to Baptist Health.
■ Describe your current patient population, age, gender, geography, presentations and treatments.
I am a board certified pediatrician caring for patients from birth to 21 years of age in both Floyds Knobs and Jeffersonville, In., where I practice comprehensive general pediatric medicine.
■ You recently authored a book, Passionate Parenting: A Guide to Healthcare Professionals. Please tell us briefly the general theme of the book and what motivated you to write it.
As the title indicates, the book is designed to help healthcare professionals direct parents in learning the art and skill of effective parenting. Following 20 years of my wife and I teaching parenting classes in our home and church, and seeing the continued struggle of parents, I realized parenting training from healthcare professionals needed to become a bigger part of our care of families. Knowing that parenting skills training is not a normal part of pediatric residency training, I decided to write a book that might motivate healthcare professionals to develop a “passion” to learn effective parenting skills they could pass on to parents in their care.
From toddlers to teens, the book provides the training professionals should have to guide parents to successful parenting. The book has been found to be a beneficial read for parents as well, and it is my hope that all professionals who minister to families will find the book beneficial.
■ Describe the relationship between physician, parent, and patient, both the ideal and the norm.
In the ideal situation, parents are the primary caregivers to their children. Physicians supplement a parent’s care with health examinations and the treatment of illnesses, and provide advice and counseling to parents as needed. The present day norm can in fact be in stark contrast to this ideal. Many children live in dysfunctional families ravaged by alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, neglect, or physical and mental abuse. The norm now is a large proportion of parents who struggle with how to effectively parent their children.
■ What do you consider the major pitfalls for the physicians, both pediatricians and family care, when dealing with unhealthy behaviors of patients?
The most significant pitfall for physicians wanting to help parents has to do with the lack of parenting skills training provided to them during their residency training. Without parenting training, the healthcare professionals have only their own upbringing or parenting skills to depend on. If their upbringing was good, or they took the time to train themselves in how to be an effective parent, then the information they pass on to parents would be helpful. If not, their advice may do more harm than good.
■ You are a husband, father, and doctor. Please describe from your experience, the impact of different family structures and foundations on the health of the pediatric patient and how the physician deals with the different circumstances.
I love the medical profession and have loved being a pediatrician, but being a husband and father has been the greatest joy of my life. I strongly believe that if you want to be the best parent you can be you need to keep what I call your Love Priorities in the right order. Your marriage is your first priority, children are your second, your career is third, and all other social activities are fourth. This order is often reversed in families, and children pay the price. In my years as a pediatrician, I have seen children living in all kinds of family structures. Many children in non-traditional home settings do well, but just as many do not. By far the best chance for children to grow to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults is to be raised in an intact family.
■ Are there any underlying trends or behaviors that have an adverse effect on the health of the pediatric patient and the family? Please explain.
There are a number of trends taking place today that are affecting our young people. First, the overuse of TV, gaming, and cell phones are causing sleep problems, which can lead to behavior problems, inattention, and poor school performance. Second, parents today are giving children too many choices at too young of an age, which creates behavior problems when children believe they can make all decisions. Third, parents feel compelled to involve their children in every sport and activity, which can turn the parents into glorified taxi drivers, leading to self-centeredness in children who believe their own activities are the most important. Lastly, the growing trend of social media is creating more and more problems with anxiety, depression, cyber-bullying, isolation, and family discord. This may be the most concerning of today’s trends.
■ What do you think are the most common misconceptions regarding pediatric care among other medical professionals?
I believe the most common misconception is that what we do in our care of children mostly involves the treatment of runny noses and ear infections. In truth, the comprehensive care of pediatric patients involves treating all the varied problems from birth through adolescence. The problems faced by children and adolescents are far more complex than in days past, and healthcare professionals caring for our youth are being called upon to provide greater degrees of care.
The most significant pitfall for physicians wanting to help parents has to do with the lack of parenting skills training provided to them during their residency training. — Dr. Stuart Eldridge
MD-UPDATE Publisher Gil Dunn recently sat down with longtime pediatrician and new author Stuart Eldridge, MD, on the role pediatricians play in parenting.
Stuart Eldridge, MD, MBA, is a pediatrician with Baptist Health Medical Group Family Medicine in Floyds Knobs, In., and is the author of Passionate Parenting: A Guide to Healthcare Professionals. For more information, visit www.teachpassionateparenting.com or contact his office at 812.923.2273.