It’s one of his greatest gifts as a pediatrician — caring for the child of a former patient — and with more than 30 years in practice, he’s had the pleasure more than a few times.
And now, the Midland Park physician who enjoys conversing with 6 year olds as much as learning about the newest medical advances has been chosen the 2011 pediatrician of the year by the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians.
Dr. Wayne Yankus, an animated blue-eyed bundle of energy, will be formally recognized by his peers at the New Jersey Children’s Ball on May 5. Proceeds from the dinner will go to research and education in autism, child abuse and obesity prevention.
“I’m delighted and honored,” Yankus said. “And the nice part of all of this is that the money raised at the dinner goes to the association’s grant-writing arm for research and education.”
Yankus, who also serves as the Ridgewood school district’s chief medical adviser, was chosen for providing outstanding care, said Michael Weinstein, program director for the chapter.
Pediatricians from across the state base their decision on the number of years a physician has been practicing, the quality of care provided, and the amount of involvement in the community. Feedback from patients’ families is weighed heavily, Weinstein said.
“Dr. Wayne Yankus is the very model of the great pediatrician – knowledgeable, sensitive, caring, a good listener, up-to-date, passionate, concerned – all while being an inspirational leader, an engaged advocate and gifted spokesperson," said Dr. Stephen G. Rice, president of the chapter and clinical director of pediatrics at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
In addition to his practice and working with the Ridgewood district, Yankus has spent several years urging fellow pediatricians to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Realizing that many parents look up symptoms online before coming to his office, he said he wants the academy’s site to be the first source to pop up when people “google” a problem.
“The only way to be first is for people to continually go to that site and that is only going to happen if more and more doctors use this media,” Yankus said.
His posts range from a personal message to the family of a pediatrician who recently died, to "Today, I had the privilege of examining the newborn son of a former patient who was also at one time a newborn in my practice.”
Then there’s the advice and medical updates such as “Older kids need to learn to swallow pills,” “Trampolines can be dangerous,” and “Today the Supreme Court begins discussion of health care.”
Yankus has helped set up school health conferences for hundreds of pediatricians, nurses and school administrators. He also works on raising awareness about the increasing number of concussions in children — the warning signs and treatment protocol.
“Some of the rising numbers are due to more awareness about the problem,” Yankus said. “But children are bigger and stronger than in the past and they are hitting harder.
Yankus, from Ridgewood, has a practice with Dr. Deborah Ungerleider in Midland Park.