Alexis Rodriguez, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist (a physician who works exclusively in the hospital). She supports newborns as they transition through their first days of life, guides new mothers through their initial attempts at breastfeeding, and is part of the care team for children who are being treated for such problems as asthma, dehydration, and influenza.
“As a hospitalist, I look at children and ask, ‘Are they healthy? Do they have underlying illnesses?’ We keep all of this in mind as we're treating them and getting them to a point where they can transition to their outpatient doctor,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “Nobody likes being in the hospital, so we try to do this quickly and efficiently.”
Dr. Rodriguez’s approach to talking to young patients varies, depending on their age. “They all want to be respected and taken seriously. If it was a 6-year-old, I might say, ‘How are you feeling?’ If they are sitting, I would get down on their level. For a teenager, it's definitely a different approach.” But it also depends, she says. “We often ask, ‘Where is this child developmentally?’ We try to get an idea from the parents, because chronological age doesn't always show where a child is developmentally.”
“It is very scary for anyone to be admitted to the hospital, especially your child. But I like getting families through this and to that point where the child is feeling better and is ready to go home." At the end of the day it is a gratifying experience, Dr. Rodriguez says.