Pediatrician Dr. Steve Silvestro lets Disney’s Doc McStuffins know what he thinks about her impact on his young patients
Dear Doc McStuffins,
As you know, it is customary for us doctors to send letters to each other about patients we share. Well, it turns out that we share a lot of patients, and I wanted to report on how much you’ve helped them.
First, I have to say that you have made my job so much easier! Kids used to be scared of going to the doctor, but now they come dressed in a white coat and excited for their checkup.
And if a child is still nervous when I walk in the room, all I have to do is sing “Time for Your Checkup” and I see their eyes light up. It’s like a secret handshake that lets kids know that I’m on their side.
Everyone knows that you use your stethoscope to magically bring your stuffed animals to life. As a result, children are no longer afraid of my own stethoscope. They no longer see it as a cold medical tool, but now as a gateway to imagination and fun. I can pretend to put it in the wrong places–like their elbows and knees, or on my nose like an elephant–and get giggles instead of winces when I finally do put it on their chest.
But I want to point out that you help guide kids through more than just going to the doctor. From being patient and overcoming fears, to handling friendships, adoption, and bringing home a new baby, you help show kids how to navigate all of the challenging and sometimes uncomfortable aspects of the day-to-day experience of being a kid.
I especially appreciate your interaction with Chilly the snowman. Chilly is, well, a bit of a hypochondriac and often gets worried about seemingly trivial things. But in this way, he’s not unlike a young child–to my littlest patients, even small things can seem big and intimidating. And while Chilly’s fears are often unfounded (“Snowmen don’t have bones,” you replied when he thought he’d broken one), you never brush him off. Instead, you listen to what he has to say and reassure him with a loving smile. Your example is a good reminder for both parents and your fellow doctors to listen with open ears and respond with warmth and love when working with anxious children.
Doc helps Chilly through his anxieties–an example for both doctors and parents working with young children
But that isn’t the only way in which you have led by example.
Much like you have dreamed of following in your mother’s footsteps by becoming a doctor, so have you been an inspiration to many of my patients. So many now ask to listen with my stethoscope to hear what their own hearts sound like. And many kids–especially girls and children of color–tell me that they want to be a doctor when they grow up, more than ever before.
So thank you again for making my job easier, for giving me reason to break out in song during a checkup, and for being a wonderful role model for my patients and for me. I hope that we continue to share many little patients together!
All the best,
Steve Silvestro, MD, FAAP
P.S. – And perhaps someday you could teach me how to wipe rashes away with soap and a sponge…
Dr. Steve Silvestro is a pediatrician, dad, and host of The Child Repair Guide Podcast. Dr. Steve helps parents navigate the challenges of parenting by bringing the wisdom of the world’s best experts on child health, behavior, and wellness directly to them. Listen to The Child Repair Guide Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, or learn more at www.drstevesilvestro.com.