In the spirit of AFM entering its twenties, we reminisced about going to visit the doctor as a kid, and receiving a lollipop at the end of a check-up. Though shots tend to hurt and the Highlights Magazine always seemed to be missing a page, it wasn’t apparent at the time how important those appointments were, and how they influenced a healthy and structured lifestyle into adulthood. Pediatricians set the standard of wellness, and Dr. Mark Grier of Bee Caves Pediatrics shared with us some of his favorite aspects of being a general practitioner focused on children, and how the pediatric world has evolved.
How long do you tend to take care of your patients? At what age do they stop seeing a pediatrician? The majority of our patients we see until they are 18, but we see some kids into their college years. Meeting a baby and knowing I’ll see them for the next 18 years is a good feeling, and that’s why I’m a general practitioner. I do what I do so I can see them through their growing stages and take care of everything.
What are your favorite changes to observe from 10 months to 10 years? Just to see children develop and blossom in their verbal skills and their motor skills, it’s like basically watching “little people” becoming “real people.” Their verbal development really takes off between 18 months and two years, so they go from babbling five to six words to two to three sentences or more at two years (typically).
What is the biggest change in pediatric medicine you’ve seen in the last two decades? There are always developments in the pediatric world, but the biggest factor in my opinion is the development of new immunizations to protect people against diseases. That’s the biggest, most important advancement in medicine in general.
What are your thoughts on vaccinations? What about the flu shot? What would you say to parents still making those decisions? Absolutely, a thousand percent, receive your vaccinations and flu shot. I would tell parents that this is the best thing you can do to protect your child against the various illnesses that are out there—such illnesses that can potentially kill or hurt your child, or give them a permanent disability. We don’t see polio much anymore, if ever, because of vaccines, just as an example. Sometimes we do turn parents away if they choose not to go this route, but first we try to work with our parents and proactively encourage them to get their vaccinations. Occasionally, if there are people who will not get vaccinations, we don’t want to put our other patients at risk, so we will turn them away. It depends on the circumstances.
I heavily recommend getting your flu shot. Not only is the flu an illness that can put a burden on you (through being out of work with a very high fever for four to five days), but believe it or not, the flu actually kills a significant amount of people each year from pneumonia complications that can occur. Although these mostly occur in infants or elderly individuals, anybody in between can be at risk, so you really want to protect yourself against the flu. A lot of people worry they may get the flu from the shot, but that’s actually impossible; it’s inactivated. Typically, if someone gets sick after receiving the flu shot, it’s because they already had an infection in their body, and it’s coincidental that the symptoms appeared after getting the shot. We give flu shots to our young patients, plus their parents, too, if they haven’t received it yet. Flu season goes through March, so it’s never too late to come in and get your shot.