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Building Strong Community Foundations for Children & Youth

Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

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Doctors as Asset Builders

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children and youth

 

As health professionals, doctors play an essential roles in their communities by providing knowledge and education about what a healthy lifestyle should look like. The following ideas are only a few ways in which doctors can ensure that they are constantly engaging in the healthy development of the children and youth in their communities.

 


 

Photo: Michael Connors, Morguefile

SUPPORT


Have materials on Asset Building that you can easily provide to parents.

 

Get to know the names of your coworkers’ and employees’ children. Show interest in their children and ask how they are doing on a regular basis.

Example: Have gatherings where you and your co-workers bring your children together to play. Be a positive adult influence on your co-workers children and vice-versa.

Provide support to various Asset Building projects through human, financial, or in-kind   resources.

Example: Make donations to non-profit organizations that are committed to the healthy development of children and youth.

Make yourself available to all young patients by encouraging them to come see you whenever they like. Make them feel comfortable talking to you about any type of physical, mental, or emotional health problems that they might encounter. You can help them feel comfortable by greeting them with eye contact and a genuine smile. When you need to ask a difficult question, look away so as not to be too intimidating. Help youth know that they can always come to you, you care and will be there to help.

 

Provide resources for parents about health issues that may go beyond your specific practice.

Example: Have pamphlets and contact information available for parents who have children with mental health issues and or struggle with their emotional wellbeing.

EMPOWERMENT


While meeting with patients, be entirely transparent about the way in which you are going to examine them. Ensure that they are okay with the procedures. Be aware that some people may not be familiar with certain protocols.

 

Try to get to know children and youth patients by their names.

 

Example: Ask them what name they preferred to be called and make a note of that in their file.

 

Ensure that the office/examining room where you see patients is secured and safe for younger children. Have all medicine and materials stored away safely.

 
 

Encourage your young patients to volunteer. Have ideas and resources that can help them get involved with different community volunteer projects. Offer to be a reference for youth you know well.

 
 

BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS


Be understanding and respectful of your patient’s time. Try to keep the front desk staff fully knowledgeable and accurate on the expected wait time as soon as they arrive.

 

Never condone or ignore abuse within families.

 

Example: Make a note of the issue and follow procedures around how to handle child abuse cases. Try to encourage the child or youth to talk about any problems that may be happening at home with someone who is trained in child counselling.
 

With young patients, discuss the importance of staying healthy. Ensure that your patients follow your directions when they are ill.

 

Example: For young patients or patients with special needs or mental health issues that have been quite sick, make it mandatory to have a nurse or administrative staff check up on the patient to ensure that they are taking care of themselves.
 

CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME


Support, promote and offer time towards events that involve healthy child and youth development.

 
 

Maximize your knowledge about child and youth health. Offer to speak at community events; discuss the ways in which parents and community members can improve their children’s health. Share your specialty with your community.

 

Example: Target important issues such as depression, eating disorders, obesity, regular exercise, safe sex practices (for older youth), regular check ups, vaccination updates and information, mental health issues, symptoms of behavioural disorders, etc.
 

Always promote healthy choices for children and youth during your practice as a doctor.

 

 

COMMITMENT TO LEARNING


Always be open to learning more about the developments and new findings in child and youth health research. Provide this information to parents and other paediatric doctors and nurses.


Example: Subscribe to health journals and magazines and have them available in your office for other staff to read or attend conferences on the latest research for things like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
 

Supply your young patients free books on healthy living.
 

Example: The Little Black Book (youth services in Surrey, Delta and Langley)
 

Youth are very computer savvy. Have a website where they can access health information.
 

 

If a child has a particular sickness, illness, or health concern, provide resources for them that will help them learn more about what their body and mind is experiencing.

 

Have copies of the most recent McCreary’s youth health survey available in your office for young people to look at while they wait to see you. This resources offers valuable statistics about the health of B.C.’s youth.
 

 

POSITIVE VALUES


Have the health clinic you work at be involved with community projects and services that help under-privileged populations or fundraising for a variety of issues. Invite your young patients to get involved, or have a donations box in your office for people to contribute to. This reinforces the value of giving to the community.

 


Examples:

• Volunteer at a clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side or at a non-profit health organization.

• Donate to local non-profits who specialize in the care and development of children and youth.

Offer a bursary to high school students who want to go into the area of your specialty.

Show care for all your patients, provide young people with an example of what empathy and care should be.

 

Be a resource for your young patients, let them know that they can come to you with any type of health issues that they may have.

 

 

Always be honest with the children and youth patients. Let them know that they can trust you as their doctor and as someone who truly cares about their wellbeing. 

Example: Take time to get to know your patients. Let them talk about what’s happening in their life and provide personal experiences to show that you can relate to them.

As your patients mature into their adolescence, talk with them about responsibilities of taking care of their bodies, as well as the responsibilities involved with being sexually active and what risks are involved.

Examples:

Have contraceptives available and offer to explain them to the youth, even f it makes them embarrassed.

Have a chart that shows the average menstrual cycle of a female so you can explain it to young patients.

Have a chart of STD’s available, ensure that your patient knows how to prevent getting them and what the symptoms are.

Have information about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and promote the message: No safe time, no safe amount when it comes to drinking and being sexually active.

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES


Acknowledge and say hello to all young people that you see in the clinic. If you have a minute, take time to talk with them and get to know a little bit about them.

 


Example:
Ask them where they go to school, what sports they like, what their favourite hobby is. Talk to them about some interesting news you just heard, or about interesting things about your work.
 

Have posters and pictures of people you idol up in your office, let young patients know why it is you chose this person as a personal idol.
 

 

Be open and personable with your patients.           
 

 

Have many resources available for a variety of cultures and ethnicities.

Example: Have health magazines in different languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi, and French.
 

Respect all patients all of the time, try not to take personal problems or biases out on your patients.
 

 

POSITIVE IDENTITY


Learn some personal information about your patients. Make note of these when you see them, the next time you see them, look over what you had learned about them last time and ask them questions about that. This can be beneficial, not only to know their health, but to make a connection with them as well.

 
 

Be involved in community events with children and youth, inspire them to do the best they can in life.

 
 

Actively listen to your young patients when they are talking to you.

 

Example: Give your full attention by looking at them, face them while they are talking and focusing on what they are saying.
 

When dealing with patients in distress or depression, let them know about the struggles that you have faced and talk with them about the capacity within yourself to overcome those obstacles. Let them see you not only as a doctor, but as someone that understands where they might be coming from.
 

Example: Tell them a story about a time that was difficult for you when you were young.

 

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