(Joplin, MO) – When a child is sick or a newborn is failing to thrive, parents want access to the highest level of care. Freeman Health System welcomes Dr. Muhammad Shaukat and his expertise as a pediatric gastroenterologist (GI), specializing in treating children for issues with the digestive system.
“When comparing adults to children, each organ has diseases that are more specific to the pediatric patient,” said Dr. Shaukat. “Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic disorder of the esophagus that causes inflammation in the GI track and is very common in the pediatric population. Reflux in newborns and in early childhood is different than the regular adult population.”
Dr. Shaukat said an important aspect of pediatric care is the emotional attachment between parents and their children. As a specialist, he has more time to educate parents and help them understand how a disease works and how to help the child.
“Parental anxiety is a factor,” said Dr. Shaukat. “They think something is wrong with their child, and it’s my duty to ascertain if there is an anatomic defect or abnormality or it’s a physiological phenomenon. No concern is a small concern. A lot of my empathy and love for the patients and respect for parental concerns comes from when I had my own kids.”
Dr. Shaukat’s son was born with a congenital heart problem and was a patient in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). He says that personal experience opened up a new side of him that evolves, continues to learn and is more mature.
“Whenever I’m making a decision, I ask, ‘Would I do this if this was my own child? Do we really need to do this test? Is the poking or pain it causes really necessary and would it benefit the patient?’ said Dr. Shaukat.
Being an advocate for the patient is part of Dr. Shaukat’s medical philosophy that he defines as anything that effects having a normal life is a problem. Procedures differ in the pediatric population which require specially sized scopes and other equipment.
“The scope used for a one-year-old is different than what you use for a 50-year-old because the size of the colon is different,” said Dr. Shaukat.
Dr. Shaukat treats all GI disorders including celiac, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, abdominal pain and many others, including failure to thrive which can require finding other ways to give a child nutrition such as a gastrostomy tube or g-tube. He is excited about the growing field of endoscopy used while pediatric patients are awake, along with ultrasound, and eliminating the need for more invasive procedures.
Dr. Shaukat was encouraged to go into medicine by his parents who started calling him doctor as a child. As a high school senior, he visited his grandma in the hospital and watched how doctors would spend their days and nights. He visited the best medical college in Pakistan and started seeing himself in the corridors. He chose pediatrics in medical school.
“It touched me how caring for small ones makes a huge difference in their lives, their parents’ lives and the nation overall because they’re going to be growing up to be our future leaders,” said Dr. Shaukat. “If I can make a positive change in their life, I would feel proud of that.”
Dr. Shaukat received his medical degree from King Edward Medical University in Punjab, Pakistan. He completed his residency at New York Medical College in New York City and completed the Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship Program at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences in Oklahoma City. He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and board eligible with the American Board of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
He comes from an academic environment and is glad that Freeman is a teaching hospital.
“I think teaching is just as important for the teacher as it is for the person being taught,” said Dr. Shaukat. “It keeps you on your toes, so you don’t become dull.”
His move to Joplin reunites Dr. Shaukat with his wife, Ayesha, a psychiatry resident at Ozark Center, an entity of Freeman Health System. The Shaukats have three children: seven-year-old Aaminah, three-year-old Ali and two-month-old Duha. They enjoy family activities like walking in parks, cycling and watching movies.
Referrals are required. For more information about Dr. Muhammad Shaukat, contact Freeman Children’s Clinic at 417.347.8750.
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.
Lisa Olliges, Marketing & Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System