October 17, 2017

Dr. Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP

Pediatric Specialists

While Melanie Wilhelm spent 15 years as a Registered  Nurse, she often found herself discussing doses and diagnoses with doctors, which she recognized was not the norm.

Now, as a Doctor  of Nursing Practice, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and author, that experience as a nurse, and as a mom, “makes me a better provider,” said Wilhelm, who works at Pediatric Specialists in Norfolk, VA.

When her daughter Ashley-Kate struggled with asthma, she was frustrated no one seemed to be able to help her, she said. Wilhelm eventually found a Pediatric  Nurse Practitioner who specialized in asthma, and her daughter’s health dramatically improved under her care. “I started thinking about going back to school, and here I am.”

Her children are now grown — her son is 28, her daughter 22 —  but as a “parent in the other chair,” at medical offices, she learned to really understand the struggle patients and their parents often face.

She admits to being open with patients about her own parenting struggles. “Being vulnerable helps parents understand,” she said. “I’ve lived it. It’s not just my profession.”

Returning to school mid-career, Wilhelm became a nurse practitioner and then, eight years later, received her doctorate. A few years later she was on a vacation with her family in the Virgin Islands when an a-ha moment led to what she sees now as her life’s mission .

“I woke early to have some quiet prayer and meditation on the beach before the kids got up,” she explained. Watching the waves, she was overwhelmed with the beauty of nature. She got up to put her toes in the water and paused for a moment. “As I looked back, I saw my footsteps being washed away by the water. I felt God speak to my soul as I heard the words, ‘You’ve got to leave a deeper mark.’”

Wilhelm said she felt called to write a series of parenting books, “not just to help this generation of parents, but for subsequent generations of parents,” she said.

It took her about five years to release her first book, “Raising Today’s Baby,” which is peer-reviewed by physicians and offers medical recommendations and her experiences as a parent. The book covers topics from birth to one year, including feeding, bathing and medical questions. She is currently working on the sequel “Raising Today’s Toddler” scheduled for release in 2018.

Wilhelm also serves as Adjunct  Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University and writes a monthly column  for Tidewater Family Magazine.

Her focus in graduate school was childhood obesity, something she often faces in her medical practice . She teaches families to remember the numbers 95210: 9-10 hours of sleep, 5 fresh fruits and vegetables daily, less than 2 hours of screen time, one hour of exercise daily and zero sweetened drinks.

“These are difficult topics, but we need to take the time to address them,” she said. “I rest well knowing that I made someone else’s journey a bit easier in regards to childhood obesity. Progress can be slow, but I have seen it happen.”

You can view Dr. Wilhem’s blog at RaisingTodaysChild.com

 

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