Dear Doctor: Tiffany Otto Knipe
The pediatrician blending old school personalized care with new school technology and modern design
When you visit Washington Market Pediatrics, you’ll take in many things. First, you’ll be delighted by the decor and charm of the space, from the snack cart featuring healthy local treats to the walls lined with art projects from Dr. Tiffany’s tiny patients. You’ll revel in smart technology choices, like the on-site lab. You can picture the buzz and excitement in the beautiful event space when it’s full with local families during events. And that’s all before you meet Dr. Tiffany and her staff, who make you feel right at home. We loved learning more about Dr. Tiffany and how she has raised the bar for quality pediatric care at her Tribeca practice!
A Passion for Pediatrics
“I’ve always just had an indescribable drive toward medicine. When I was four years old, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician. My parents got me a real stethoscope for Christmas that year, and now I have it mounted in a shadowbox.
I found that adults are not always great at taking care of ourselves, but all parents want what’s best for their children. You don’t have those same conversations with children that you do with adults: stop smoking, stop drinking, lose weight, which can be exhausting. Instead, you’re shaping behaviors early on and have the ability to teach kids about health and wellness and their bodies in a fun and safe environment.
And really, what job could be better than one where I get to come to work with stickers and crayons in my pocket everyday?
On Compassionate Care
I think you can show compassion in many different ways: through creating a warm and welcoming space, through listening, but also through strength.
For example, some parents might not want to give antibiotics to a child with an ear infection. I ask them to tell me their concerns and we can talk through them. What are the benefits and the risks? But I’ll also be real when they need to hear it and share what I think is in the child’s best interest as a medical professional.
I wanted to create a space where design meets function. I can do my job better when the child wants to get on the exam table, so we put something engaging on the walls behind every table to make them inviting places for young children to sit.
All my patients have my email and cell phone and we do a lot of communications over email.
In this day and age, it’s archaic to not be able to communicate with your doctor over email!
We try to anticipate questions and concerns and prepare parents with the information they need. For example, after vaccines we’ll email a digital copy of the CDC information sheet along with a recommendation for Tylenol dosage if the child gets a fever. When I worked in other practices, I couldn’t believe that something this simple wasn’t clearly communicated, and we’d receive calls all the time from panicked parents.
We also have an on-site lab which is a unique feature of our office. We can get lab results within minutes which enables me to make clinical decisions in real-time. In some cases, this can save a family the trip to an emergency room or local labs and reduces any added stress.
My children inspire me. They are a constant reminder that I am balancing my roles as parent and physician. I try to approach every medical situation with the question: “How would I want this handled if this were my child?” I think that makes my recommendations more authentic and makes me more relatable to parents.
Actually, my two kids inspired me to write a children’s book! The concept came from my then 4-year old asking me to read him a book about what doctors do. When we couldn’t find an age-appropriate book that handled the subject in an engaging way, I wrote one (with my kids’ input, of course!) The idea was to try and demystify the “doctor visit” and simultaneously encourage children to learn about their health.
Community is very important to me, and I think we have several different layers of community here.
First, there’s the individual family level. I feel like I become a little part of each family. Because we’re so ingrained in the neighborhood, kids will walk by on their way to school and come in to say hi to Lana, our practice manager or to Nurse Erin. They’ll come show us their report cards and bring by their art projects, which we proudly frame and display.
Then there’s my entire patient community, who we call the Washington Market Pediatrics family. And since all of our patients come to us via word of mouth, there’s a lot of interconnectedness among our patient community.
Lastly, there’s our neighborhood. We try to integrate ourselves and support the community as much as possible, whether that’s by hosting events that are open to everyone or by contributing to school fundraisers. We have art on the walls from local artists and snacks from local establishments, like Tribeca Treats and Bitsy’s Brainfood. These are little touches that really add to the sense of community.
Anytime any one of those communities succeed, it’s a win!
I want to bust the myth…that vaccines cause autism. Vaccines are the most important preventative care measure we have and we’re so lucky to live in a country where we have access to vaccines so readily.
More people should know about …balance. You can’t always eat well or exercise everyday. And you shouldn’t! Sometimes you’ve got to have that lazy, indulgent day and eat cookies for breakfast! I tell parents all the time not to be too hard on themselves if there’s a situation where they think they could have parented differently or better. We’ve all been there. My kids have had a meltdown in Whole Foods too! It’s okay!
I love what I do because…it’s fun, challenging, satisfying and engaging, and I feel like I’m part of something bigger than just myself. Plus, I learn something new everyday.
I feel looked after when…I’m with family and friends. I have a great support network.
Place in NYC : I love going to Pier 25 with my kids. There’s mini golf, a water park, and an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty.
Words to Live By: “I think I can, I think I can…” has been a mantra for me through my personal, academic and professional challenges (inspired by the children’s book The Little Engine That Could). Now I have the story hand-written across a huge wall in our office, a helpful daily reminder that determination, dedication, discipline, persistence and patience can take us far in life.
Way to Unwind: Taking my kids to our local karaoke restaurant! It’s the one place no one blinks an eye when you go from belting out the latest pop song to Puff the Magic Dragon. For more relaxing “me time”, I’ll take a long walk up the river in the morning or go to the gym where I love to lift weights — it makes me feel strong and empowered!.