Patients and Patience - Dr Leenatha Reddy talks with You & I

In a chat with Dr Leenatha Reddy, a renowned paediatric endocrinologist from the city, she highlights that parenting strategies play an important role in preserving optimal psychosocial development. Here she talks about her personal life as well.

Tell us about your early life and career.
I am a happy and content person and very close to my sister and family. I did my schooling in Hyderabad and I’m very much Hyderabadi at heart! I pursued graduation from Gulbarga University and those were my best days of hostel life, with friends! I met my husband, Srinivas, over a surprise dinner arranged by our families. We talked, got familiar with each other, got married, and settled in the UK. I started my first job after having my son, when I developed an interest in paediatrics. And that journey helped me identify my love for paediatric endocrinology.

What prompted you to become a paediatrician?
My love for children and my interest in paediatrics. It is fun to chat and smile with kids and, at the same time, be able to make a difference. This opportunity of combining passion with career is a rare thing for most people.

What do you like most about your work?
Making a difference in someone’s life is the most enjoyable aspect of my profession. In paediatrics, where babies can’t tell you what they are going through, it is extremely satisfying to find out the problem, treat it, and see a smile on the parent’s face. The exhilaration we experience when we help people is indescribable.

What mistakes do you try to avoid making as a paediatrician?
The essence of paediatrics is to differentiate a well child from an unwell child. So, I ensure that I spend the time required to diagnose correctly. Paediatrics is not just about giving the right medicine, but listening to parents’ concerns, reassuring them and, more importantly, teaching them how to manage the disease in the best possible way. Another mistake I avoid is to never scare a child or a parent with their medical concerns.

How is technology impacting your work?
Technology has made it easier to keep oneself abreast with the latest developments in medicine. It helps me browse information within minutes of needing it, and makes my presentations more interesting and lucid. It also makes monitoring patients easier and keeps it precise. In children with diabetes who are dependent on insulin injections, better insulin-delivering devices and blood sugar monitoring are available, which increases patient’s compliance. Like most, I am hopeful for a good non-injectable insulin for my patients.

How has this field changed since you first began working?
Awareness about paediatric endocrinology as a speciality that deals with growth issues, obesity, and other hormonal problems has increased. Newer medicines, monitoring, and diagnostic strategies help in better patient care, which is why there is now further hope to treat a wider spectrum of growth and hormonal disorders.

Do you discuss issues like parenting strategies and children’s emotional/social development in your consultations?
Yes, I do. I strongly believe that in chronic conditions, parenting strategies are very important to preserve optimal psychosocial development. Apart from medical attention, I also ensure that the child does well in academics, extracurricular activities, and is prompt with the medications they should be taking.

Any words of advice for aspiring paediatricians?
Love your work and be passionate but maintain work-life balance. Give your patients your time, knowledge, advice and support, and be with the parents even for their seemingly small questions and doubts. This is key for making them follow your advice. Let them walk with you till their child is free from medical concerns.

What do you do in your spare time?
I look forward to movie outings with my husband and eating out with my kids and nephew. I also FaceTime with my son, who is currently in the US pursuing an undergraduate course. I recharge myself with a close bunch of women doctors who are great fun to be with.      – as told to Sumana