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Small Patients are EMC’s Biggest Responsibility

ost doctors work hard to treat and diagnose their patients. For pediatricians, that task can be especially difficult because they generally work with two patients rather than one – the child and the parent.

For Dr. Irina Perrin, a pediatrician at the European Medical Center, that challenge makes her job all the more interesting. Her interest in pediatrics and her basic love of children made Dr. Perrin delay her studies in order to be accepted into the pediatrics department of Paris Medical University. Following her graduation, Dr. Perrin worked for five years in the Neonatal Department of Port Royal Hospital in Paris before joining EMC in 1996.

How is your work as a pediatrician different from what other doctors do?

While it is true that children function a little differently than adults, the biggest difference, from my point of view, is the relationship you have to have with your little patients. It is completely different than the relationship you have with adult patients.

A doctor cannot simply ask a child to describe where it hurts or how they feel. Children obviously do not have the same communication skills as adults. To overcome this, a pediatrician needs to work closely with the parents, giving me basically two patients instead of one. You have to be able to treat the child and at the same time, comfort and calm the parent.

It can be challenging, but that’s what attracts me more to my work. I like working with children, and when I see them going home feeling better than when they came, I get such a good feeling from it all.

Do children become sick more easily than adults?

No, I wouldn’t say that at all. Children are very resistant to illnesses and infections, especially if they are breast-fed by their mothers. The reason small children get sick more often is because they spend more time playing outdoors and socializing closely with other small children. There is more opportunity for them to share bacteria and viruses.

What kind of illnesses do you see most often in children here?

Most of my patients usually just have colds – serious cases are rare. But a major part of my job also involves just monitoring young children and making sure that they stay healthy.

Are there any special techniques you use when working with children?

You need to hold their interest. You need some kind of toy or special question. Children require constant interaction.

What can parents do to keep their children safe and healthy?

If there were a concrete answer to that question, then I would give them a whole list of things to do and I wouldn’t have any patients anymore! A lot of things depend on the individual child, and when and how they were born.

One simple thing I can point out is that despite the climate here, it’s important not to overdress children. Children should be dressed just like adults, not too little clothing and not too much.

Are your patients mostly Russians or foreign?

My patients are about one-third Russian, two-thirds foreign. One interesting point: I see little difference between children’s behavior, whether they are Russian or foreign. The adults, however, are all very different. Russian parents seem to worry more about their children than other nationalities. Not because they love their children more, I think it’s just their nature. Foreign parents seem calmer, especially, when it comes to newborns.

It may have to do with the difference in doctors. Russian doctors seem to give their patients a lot of explanations for their ailment together with a list of medicines that should be taken and examinations that need to be done. I don’t know why, perhaps they think that if they frighten the patient, they will be more likely to seek treatment. Foreign doctors tend to be a little more reserved and calm about their diagnosis.

I know parents can be anxious when it comes to the health of their child. I always tell my patients that they can call me whenever they have a question, no matter how silly they think it may be.

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