About Dr. Nicholas Regas
A former rugby player turned pediatrician, Dr. Nicholas Regas, DO, is now a resident physician at the UNLV School of Medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada. His fascination with pediatrics started when he had to teach inner city kids how to play rugby. After spending a lot of time playing with the kids and seeing how resilient they can be, it became clear that his passion was helping children. Now, he is working his way into becoming a Pediatric Emergency Physician for the Riley Hospital for Children.
Why He Loves Working With Children
In his interview with Top Doctor Magazine, Dr. Regas clarifies that he is committed to facilitating the growth and development of his kids and ensuring that they can go back to the things they love (such as playing sports or going back to school). He especially loves working with toddlers because of how malleable they can still be. A high-impact group such as this is more susceptible to abuse and so being able to help in any way is already a massive reward for Dr. Regas.
Another highlight that sets apart Pediatrics from all the other specialties is the connection he gets to have with his patients. Giving his patient a high-five or a hug or just being able to goof around with them is a reward in itself.
The Importance of the School System
We’ve repeatedly heard how the social determinants of health for families are being exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what Dr. Regas emphasizes in his interview with Top Doctor Magazine is the importance of the education system (or lack thereof), which plays a huge factor in children’s overall well-being.
School is where children go to receive an education, eat healthy meals, and play with their peers. When the pandemic erased the ability to attend school and kids were forced to stay inside, Dr. Regas noticed that it also affected the variety of cases they had to treat in the hospital. While sports injuries have significantly diminished, cases of children suffering from abuse and non-accidental trauma have shot up. Kids suffering from seizures have also become more common because these kids’ families can no longer provide them with proper medication due to social determinants.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much the average American family relies on the school system to care for their kids and feed their kids,” Dr. Regas explains. He is excited for the day when all children will be allowed to go back to school to get back to flourishing.
The Pandemic’s Impact on Children
The collective impact of the pandemic should already be quite familiar to everyone at this point, but have you ever wondered about its effect on children? Dr. Regas shares with us the three significant ways COVID-19 has changed children’s lives.
First, kids’ mental health has become unstable. The rates at which kids are developing anxiety and depression are higher than ever. Without school, many kids from low-income families are not getting the right nutrition. Kids with complexities are unable to get therapy or see their specialists. When you factor in all these additional stressors to families barely making ends meet, it becomes a recipe for mental illness.
Second, more kids are suffering from familial loss. Without any adults to raise them, they end up losing plenty of opportunities. The early loss of family members may leave a holistic negative impact on children that could affect them long-term.
Third, vaccine rates have dropped. Kids are falling behind on getting vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps, polio, meningitis, etc. because families are now afraid to enter the hospital. Dr. Regas fears that this could lead to said diseases resurfacing in the future if not acted upon now.
The Rise of Vaccine Hesitancy
Expanding on the topic of vaccines, it is apparent that vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 has sky-rocketed. “A major fear is that the public has moved a little bit away from trusting the professionals,” Dr. Regas worries.
In the age of social media, it is so easy to be fed misinformation and differing opinions by unreliable sources. That is why Dr. Regas does his best to stir his patients to the right sources to have access to correct information. Moreover, he strongly encourages the public to get the vaccine to protect themselves and protect those who are immuno-compromised.
Advancements in Pediatrics
A silver-lining in this pandemic is the innovations it has brought to the medical community. Although available in the past, telemedicine has now become the forefront of every medical practice. It has cut out nuances like long waiting times in the waiting room, transportation hurdles for kids in wheelchairs, and exposure risk for kids with pneumonia.
Ultrasounds are also becoming more popular in Pediatrics to diagnose appendicitis, fractures, and pneumonia. Aside from simplifying procedures, it also decreases cost and exposure to radiation.
The goal is to make pediatric care more accessible to everyone. Working with kids who haven’t been jaded, who are so full of hope and potential, motivates Dr. Regas to provide better infrastructures, better medical care, and a better future for the children.