An Interview with pediatrician Sam Ogden, MD
What makes practicing at APD special?
It is without a doubt the people that make both the hospital and the surrounding area special to me. Patients and providers tend to share long histories and strong commitments to all things local, and many have family roots that go quite deep. My own wife grew up in the area, and I quickly realized that I would love to live here if I got the chance. I now feel fortunate to stay and continue exploring with a growing family. During my workday, my patients and co-workers continue to add their own stories and perspective to my appreciation for the community.
Why did you select heath care as a career?
I never could choose between a science career and a job directly “helping people,” and medicine combines each of them in every moment of every day. I’m passionate about finding a path to the healthy life that most people want for themselves and their children. As a pediatrician, I get to help keep children healthy, to watch entire families grow, and to be present for first moments of illness or personal difficulty. Being a young community pediatrician means taking care of one person or family at a time, but over time I imagine focusing also on addressing the flaws in the systems that continue to get in the way of our children thriving the way they should. We could be dedicating a lot more of our education and resources to those who do the most important job in the whole world (being parents), because at stake is the entire future (the children). That’s the job I always imagined.
What is unique and different about caring for infants, versus children, versus adolescents?
A new baby is an entire world of promise and possibility, but often demands the whole world and more of parents in the process. Both baby and parents need a lot of love from each other, their extended family, their local support, and their doctor early on. Even when a baby “has no medical problems,” intentionally setting up a life of growth and health is a full time job that deserves all the conversation we can possibly devote to it. Encouraging parents and helping them to see through the challenge into the promise is a special privilege. These early conversations are my favorite part of infant care.
Children are a refreshing look at life lived as an open book; those who stop and take moments to read it get something special, and those who help to write it (parents) get something beyond description. Children develop astonishingly quickly, and as they are increasingly able to communicate, peering through the window into their thoughts, emotions, and abilities is the greatest show on earth. This age group is full of its own challenges, mostly strengths in disguise. They won’t tell you because they can’t yet, but they are craving structure, discipline, and love. When infants turn the corner into children, I enjoy the chance to show parents how “normal” most children are, even when it seems like the sweet baby has suddenly decided to have a mind of their own.
Adolescents often cause some head-scratching in their parents. The irony is that the same confusion tends to be going on inside of the teenagers as well. It’s a time period where everything comes into question, sometimes for everyone in the family, which can be frustrating. But it’s a time where focusing on respect and relationship can carry a family through hard times into some very strong adult relationships on the other end. Helping parents to see the man inside the young man, and the woman inside the young woman, is an essential part of it. Helping adolescents to see the emerging adult within is the other best part of the teen years.
What are some of your personal interests, passions, hobbies?
During residency, I started to pick up the acoustic guitar. Having time to play and sing brings me another level of personal restoration. Otherwise, in addition to all the family activities right now with young children, I also enjoy exploring the local outdoors. Table tennis in my garage is a long-time favorite, because it so often leads to deep conversation (as competition allows!).
How do you help new parents ease their fears of caring for a newborn/infant?
There are a few major, important messages that I wish all parents could know right away, so I tend to send these messages at each visit. One message is that your doctor (team) will be here for you anytime, even for the smallest of questions. Another message is that it takes a village to raise a child, and also to support young parents. A child thrives when the family around them is safe, healthy, and able to provide for their needs, so even in Pediatrics we will help the entire family as much as we can. Finally, I like to remind a child’s parents or care-takers that asking for help is itself a sign of strength, that keeping the helpful / supportive people nearby is essential, and that focusing on things that are going well is always, always helpful.
Dr. Odgen is welcoming new patients at the Multi-Specialty Clinic. Please call (603) 448-3122 to establish care.