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Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
 Issue 155 - July 24, 2018
A good doctor can provide a wealth of information about a variety of medical topics. But the way they effectively communicate with the patient is what separates the best doctors from the rest. As physicians we should always think about how we can improve our patient’s overall health, and one way to do that is to counsel them with sound advice at every opportunity. In this week’s newsletter, Dr. Laura Shaw offers excellent common sense advice to parents with children getting ready to head back to school reminding us all that a little preparation helps make any transition easier.
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DR. LAURA SHAW: PLANNING MAKES
START OF SCHOOL LESS STRESSFUL
Newsletter 155 Back To School
Dr. Laura Shaw, an associate professor in the UNLV School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine, says parental monitoring of their children's electronic usage is necessary.
As parents, grandparents, relatives and just plain good citizens it does, in fact, take a village to raise a child we must always keep in mind that no youngster, whether born into affluence or scarcity, is immune from bad, life-altering choices. It is during this back to school time, as UNLV Medicine family physician Dr. Laura Shaw points out, when our guidance can help build the foundation necessary to ensure that young people are prepared to take advantage of educational opportunities that can forever change their lives. Dr. Shaw, who practices in our family medicine clinic at 2410 Fire Mesa, shares some back to school tips that she says are a good first step toward making the educational experience as positive as possible:

  • Make sure immunizations, annual wellness visits, sports physicals and dental visits are completed prior to the start of school. “It’s easier to do in the summer a little planning means neither school nor a parent’s work has to be missed,” she says.
  • Appointments for school shots, wellness visits and physicals can be made through the UNLV Family Medicine Clinic, 2410 Fire Mesa, by calling 702-992-6888 or at the UNLV Pediatric Clinic, 1524 Pinto Lane, 702-944-2828. Dr. Fermin Leguen, the chief medical officer and director of clinical services for the Southern Nevada Health District, stresses that children, in order to attend school, must have the proper vaccinations. The health district lists them here.
  • Get kids on a routine providing adequate sleep start at least a week ahead of the beginning of school. Move bedtime back an hour each day until it allows adequate sleep by age. Age 6 and under 13 hours; Age 7-14 10-11 hours; Age 14 plus 8-9 hours.
  • Minimize the unknown of a new school by checking out the school ahead of time. Go to orientations, look at websites. See if there are kids in the neighborhood that can let your kids know what to expect.
  • Minimize the morning chaos, decreasing everyone’s stress, by agreeing on the wakeup time the night before. Work out a warning system if they don’t get up quickly.
  • Plan the morning the night before lay out clothes and put the backpacks and shoes by the door.
  • Plan ahead menus for meals find out what healthy items kids really like, including fruits and vegetables. Recommend older children occasionally make tasty, healthy meals for themselves.
  • Have consistent meal times for kids. Meals too often get skipped because of activities.
  • Bringing lunch to school is best if kids don’t, they (particularly teens) often use lunch as a social hour and will only buy junk from vending machines to save time for visiting. Dr. Shaw, who now has three children in college, says that if you make something particularly tasty you could have another problem on your hands. “My one child became an entrepreneur and started selling the trail mix I made him.”  
  • Don’t count on recess or a physical education class for your children to get exercise. Schools have cut back on PE. So if your kids aren’t in extracurricular sports, plan active outings or activities to get kids up and moving.
  • Limit electronic time. Being a good parent has always been a challenge, but today it’s even more complicated because of electronic gadgets. No longer is it enough to make sure kids watch appropriate TV programs. Now it’s that and video games and so much more. The internet can be a wonderful tool. It allows us to have access to knowledge at the end of our fingertips. But smartphones, laptops, tablets and computers also make pornography and the messages of hate groups just a click away. Today, as our children go back to school, it is critical that parents communicatie about what it is appropriate. “Online access should be monitored it is key,” Dr. Shaw says. “Children need to know parents have access to phones they’re using. Monitoring cuts down on online bullying.”
  • Dr. Shaw notes parents can restrict internet access on devices. Common Sense Media, often noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, has a useful website: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-parental-controls.
  • “It’s actually best for many reasons to have an electronic curfew of 10 p.m., to put the electronics in another room for recharging at night,” Dr. Shaw says. She notes that the blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers and tablets and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. “You need a technology free zone so they can get the necessary sleep,” she says. “Otherwise they may well stay up all night texting.”

While many people feel monitoring within families is something new because of new electronic devices, Dr. Shaw says intensive monitoring in families is nothing new. Our children are always monitoring us, she says. If we always watch TV instead of engaging children in conversation, if we eat chips instead of vegetables and fruit, if we fall asleep on the couch instead of going for a walk, if we play cards instead of reading, kids are watching, monitoring. They learn by example.

For about 2 million years now, people have been raising children. How to educate them has always been a hot topic, according to scientists and historians who’ve interpreted the drawings and writings of families. Why? Because of the hope something will be learned in their caves, in the forest, on the sea or in schools to bring about a better reality, a better future.

Yes, humankind has long realized what anti-apartheid torchbearer Nelson Mandela gave voice to, the reason why we must give our children the best back to school opportunity to learn:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
MEDICINE BY THE NUMBERS - 129,753
Data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows there were 129,753 tummy tuck procedures in 2017, up 2 percent from 2016.

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All previous issues of Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson , are available on our website.
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