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At Northern Nevada Pediatrics, Debra Hendrickson, MD, joins three other pediatricians in providing high-quality, compassionate pediatric care. With decades of experience, Debra and her colleagues provide medical services to children from birth to age 18, and specialize in caring for high-risk newborn babies. The practice is recognized within the community for their expertise in this specialized field.
Northern Nevada Pediatrics and Dr. Hendrickson emphasize the value of regular check-ups for all children. Periodic and thorough examinations are considered an important part of a child’s health. At every “well visit,” she evaluates her patient’s growth and development and discusses their diet, behavior, and safety issues. The goal is always to promote and maintain optimum health for each and every child.
Debra Hendrickson, MD, and her colleagues view their relationship with parents as being one of collaboration, support, and mutual respect. She relies on information and input from parents, but also spend a great deal of time educating parents in every appointment. At a “well visit,” this information focuses on preventative health—how to protect children from injury or illness, and important nutrition, feeding, sleep, behavior and safety issues. At “sick visits,” Dr. Hendrickson and her colleagues spend whatever time parents need to understand how to care for a child who is ill or injured. Follow-up visits or phone calls are often scheduled to ensure the child is improving. Northern Nevada Pediatrics has a full-time registered nurse dedicated to answering parents’ questions and following up on the recovery of their patients.
Dr. Hendrickson’s takes a consistent positive attitude and compassionate approach to her work. She believes in getting to know each child in the context of his or her family, and always wants to know how parents are coping with the demands of modern life and raising children. She believes that providing excellent pediatric care depends on more than an understanding of disease, but also on understanding what it is like to be a parent, and caring deeply about each child’s and family’s welfare.
Beyond her contributions at Northern Nevada Pediatrics, she lectures at the local medical school, focusing specifically on early childhood development and the effects of early events on a child’s entire life. She is particularly interested in the impact of childhood poverty and other types of “toxic stress” in early life on long-term mental and physical health. She has been active in shaping state government policy toward disabled children, and is currently very involved in trying to reform the state’s Medicaid program so more children can find pediatricians. Especially important in Nevada, Debra is also fluent in Spanish.
Dr. Hendrickson has three children of her own – Sam, Rachel, and Ben. While the majority of her free time focuses on family, she loves the outdoors and tries to run at least ten miles each week. She is also a painter – most of her work depicting mothers and children – and a musician, playing piano and banjo.
Debra Hendrickson, MD, was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Mill Valley, Calif. In 1983, she graduated from Brown University with Honors and a Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies. At Brown, she received the Walter E. Massey Prize for independent research. After college, she served with the Peace Corps in Ecuador, helping indigenous people in the Amazon basin build and stock fishponds to increase the protein in their diets.
Following her enriching South American experience, Dr. Hendrickson spent several years working in environmental planning in both New England and Seattle. Some of the work she was involved in as an environmental planner included hydrologic modeling – computer simulations of the behavior of rivers and streams. Interestingly, many of the same physics concepts and equations that are used in hydrologic modeling are also used in understanding and analyzing the cardiovascular system and other systems in the body.
After developing a successful career in environmental planning and giving birth to three children, Dr. Hendrickson decided to change her career path in a substantial way. Once focused on caring for the environment, she decided to return to school to care for children and pursue a career in pediatrics.
Debra Hendrickson, MD attended the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. As was the case when she graduated from Brown University, Debra graduated from medical school with numerous academic honors. She then attended the University of California Davis Medical Center for her pediatric residency. Upon completion of this era of her training in 2007, Dr. Hendrickson again accumulated a laundry list of achievements. These included being awarded the Vice Chancellor's Housestaff Award, the Academic Achievement Award for Pediatrics, the Resident Leadership Award for Pediatrics, the award for Excellence in Pediatric Critical Care and the award for Excellence in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.
In July of 2007, following the completion of her pediatric residency at UC Davis, Debra joined the wonderful staff and doctors at Northern Nevada Pediatrics. Dr. Hendrickson earned her board certification shortly after, in October of the same year. She has since also rejoined the University of Nevada School of Medicine community, contributing as a Clinical Assistant Professor.
On top of her teaching endeavors, she has authored numerous academic papers on pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and on a rare inherited liver disease that causes bleeding problems in affected children.
Debra Hendrickson, MD pursued medicine as a second career because of her passion for caring for children. She wants to continue to do all that she can to make an impact in the field of pediatrics. That includes continuing to render her services as a pediatrician at Northern Nevada Pediatrics, teaching at the University of Nevada School of Medicine on early childhood health, writing academic articles on pediatric issues, and advocating and lobbying for children’s welfare with government agencies and representatives.
Given her past in Ecuador as a member of the Peace Corps, Dr. Hendrickson would love to return to the South American country to provide much-needed services to impoverished Ecuadorian children, especially in the Amazon jungle where she worked previously. She hopes the combination of her medical and Spanish-speaking skills could enable her to help these children. Her goal is to take short breaks from her work at Northern Nevada Pediatrics and visit Ecuador two to four weeks each year.
“There is a clinic where American doctors who are interested in coming down and doing this kind of work can volunteer,” says Dr. Hendrickson. “Ecuador has a high poverty rate, especially in the Amazon. Although the country has made progress, many indigenous people still struggle for basic health needs like clean water and vaccines. A lot of kids who have more serious needs—such as those with birth defects, cleft palate, heart defects, and other issues that are treatable through modern surgery—may never get that care.” Given her expertise with high-risk newborns, Debra Hendrickson, MD, hopes to provide help to this Ecuadorian community.
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