What does a typical workday look like for you as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician?
It can vary from day to day! At Children’s Developmental Pediatrics, we currently have a mix of in-person and virtual visits. I typically meet a few new patients each day and then spend the rest of my time seeing patients for follow-up visits.
For new patients, I will review their previous history and any information we have available (typically sometime prior to their visit). On the day of the visit, we discuss their developmental and medical histories in detail; we learn about behavioral concerns, developmental milestones, challenges with sleep or eating, and what kind of support they are already receiving. I usually perform a thorough physical exam as well, although sometimes the patients are not very interested!
We will then talk about next steps, which can include more developmental testing with me or one of our Neuropsychology colleagues, as well as referrals to appropriate therapies or other services. The rest of my day is spent following up with patients for medication management or behavioral concerns, along with answering messages, sending new prescriptions, and communicating with my colleagues about other patients. It can be very busy!
What do you especially like about your specialty?
I love working with our patients and their families. I chose this field of medicine in part for the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with patients and their families. The patients I see can be complex and have many challenges, but they are very resilient and usually do very well with the support of their families. Their parents work hard to provide appropriate support to help bolster their development and to be able to do the things that they want to do. Every patient I meet has a unique story and many positive interests!
Before completing your medical degree, you obtained a PhD in chemistry. Was it always your plan to be a pediatrician? How do you feel this educational path has helped you?
Yes, before being a full-time medical student I was enrolled in graduate school in chemistry. I had a strong interest in pediatrics but felt that I could also contribute to pediatric medicine through science and research. I was enrolled in the Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois, which was a unique MD-PhD program that allowed students to pursue graduate studies in fields outside of the “normal” fields offered by most programs. For example, one of my colleagues (now a Med-Peds hospitalist in Pittsburgh) obtained a PhD in History!
When I started, I anticipated being a “bench-to-bedside” researcher, working on genetic disorders in children. My PhD thesis focused on novel treatments for spinal muscular atrophy, a childhood neuromuscular disorder. After completing graduate school, I realized that bench research was not for me, but I retained my interest in pediatrics and neurodevelopmental disorders. My experiences in graduate school gave me a more scientific approach to asking questions, along with a willingness to persist on challenging problems, which has served me well as a Developmental Pediatrician.
Why did you join MNAAP?
When I returned to Minnesota in 2019 for fellowship, I had a strong desire to be more involved in advocacy work, especially for early childhood initiatives.
I had the opportunity to attend a few of the in-person Prenatal-to-3 policy forums before the pandemic started in 2020. The connections I made with Dr. Krish Subrahmanian and Dr. Nate Chomilo during those sessions, as well as Dr. Tom Scott (who was on my Scholarship Oversight Committee during my fellowship), further increased my interest in advocacy involvement and strengthened my interest in joining MNAAP. I knew that being involved in MNAAP would give me the chance to engage in this work. I have been able to participate in Advocacy Day activities and also joined the Early Childhood Work Group as part of MNAAP. I am glad to be part of this community!
Outside of medicine, what are some of your interests? How do you like to spend your free time?
Like many MNAAP members, I am a parent, and this occupies a lot of my time! Luckily, being a pediatrician helps me to feel very comfortable going places like the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Como Zoo (where I used to go as a child myself), and other child-friendly venues with my children. We love visiting farmers’ markets in the summer and being outdoors all year round.
My biggest personal interest and activity for the past few decades (since age 12… I am turning 40 this year!) has been running, and I have completed 10 marathons since graduating college. I currently live near Elm Creek Reserve and you can find me on the trails most weekends.
Is there an advocacy issue you feel particularly drawn to support?
As stated earlier, I have a strong interest in early childhood initiatives and am a member of the Early Childhood Work Group. I am interested in investing time and financial support into initiatives that support children in the early stages, including access to high-quality childcare and educational support. Many of the patients I see rely upon these services and would definitely benefit from additional support. Early interventions can be extremely helpful in child development and I am excited to continue advocating for these services.
What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I was a consultant for a television show. My brother (Alex M. Langenfeld, if you want to see his IMDB page) has been working in television production for some time and most recently was a production assistant and producer on the Netflix show Dead to Me; he reached out to ask me questions about how to display the EMR (electronic medical record) on a screen in the show! Let’s just say that my experience with charting served me well in this situation. 🙂