2021 Top Doctor: Randall Ricardi, D.O.

Editorial StaffMay 5, 2021
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Medical School/Year Graduated: Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine/1980

Years in Practice: 31

Why are the first five years of a child’s life so integral to his or her developmental health?

During this period, the child is forming necessary attachments and developing social, motor and language skills, laying the foundation for later success. The brain grows to about 90 percent of adult size by age 5.

Do some conditions present differently in young girls than in young boys? Why?

They do. In Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, girls may be less hyperactive and disruptive in social settings compared to boys and diagnosed later in childhood. The reason may be related to genetics or environmental influences, or other health issues.

What made you want to pursue child psychiatry as opposed to working with adults?

There are greater challenges working with children. For instance, the pathology, which is to say the cause and effect, may not be fully expressed, which poses diagnostic challenges. There’s also the potential for a greater positive impact later in life if we correctly diagnose and treat developing disorders early.

How has your work changed over the years? Are you seeing increased demand as mental health becomes a priority – even for youngsters, and especially amid the pandemic?

Yes, the number of children with mental health concerns continues to rise. This may be a result of earlier recognition of problems, but also may be influenced by social stressors, including the impact of the pandemic. There’s a shortage of child psychiatrists [in the Valley], so Phoenix Children’s started a training program to give adult psychiatrists the opportunity to receive additional specialized training.

Are there any physical cues that a child might need psychiatric help?

Anytime we see regression in development or failing to make new milestones. We always ask about sleep patterns, as this might be an early warning sign of problems. The child who is toilet-trained and starts to have accidents might raise
a concern.

Do you have a favorite psychiatrist in TV or film?

I actually like the character of Frasier. I still watch the reruns and find it refreshing that he combines his training skills as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

Do you have any hobbies or interests you pursue in your spare time?

I enjoy travel and, prior to the pandemic, would try to go somewhere new on my bucket list. I play the piano, hike, garden, scuba dive and recently took up mahjong.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

A commercial pilot. That’s how much I like to travel and be in the front of the plane.

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