The Pediatrician and You
As a parent of a baby, toddler or young child, there will inevitably be a group of people who you turn to for support, assistance and advice whenever needed. One of these is without a doubt, your pediatrician. He or she is the one you rely on to make things better when your child falls ill, which is bound to happen sooner or later.
Minding the office rules
As with all other human relationship, compatibility and trust is important in the partnership between your pediatrician and you. Although you are paying for your child’s healthcare, it does no harm to make an effort to maintain a positive and comfortable relationship with your pediatrician, especially in terms of certain office rules and policies. Do observe and respect them no matter how ‘familiar’ you are already at the premise. If the pediatrician’s office has an information sheet, keep it and refer to it often.
Do keep in mind that your child is not the only patient that your pediatrician has to see, so refrain from asking or expecting special treatment or that you be exempted from the office rules. Parents who are not sensitive enough to these matters tend to sabotage good doctor-patent relationships.
Ask & listen
It is a pediatrician’s profession to see to a young child’s health, so, unless you really do know better, be willing to listen to what the good doctor has to say about your little one’s condition and how he/she intends to treat it. If the doctor doesn’t feel that a medication will eliminate the problem or that the illness must simply run its course, why argue?
Do ask questions though, especially if you are not clear on anything or if you have a nagging worry. If the doctor’s suggested approach fails, then by all means, call for another appointment so that another approach can be taken.
Respecting an appointment
Your baby’s appointment is for that one person only and your doctor has allocated time to see that child for that time. Don’t use your baby’s appointment as an opportunity for all of your other children to be seen by the doctor. This opportunist-like tendency is rampant amongst many families and is unfair to your doctor. Most pediatricians agree that this thoughtless and annoying one-stop-for-all attitude constantly eats away at their working time and also affects other scheduled appointments. If others in your family need to be seen by the doctor, schedule appropriate appointments for them.
Don’t expect the pediatrician to read your mind. It will save you a lot of unnecessary worry if you let the doctor know your concerns. Then only, can he or she reassure you or clarify matters with you. For example, if you’re worried your child may have asthma, or that his rash is actually eczema, do voice it out to him or her so that they may either confirm your theory or put it to rest for you. If you let your doctor know what you are worried about, then he can spend extra time explaining why you shouldn’t be worrying about it or why it simply isn’t so.
Practice being patient
If your child happens to fall sick, evaluate the situation carefully but with a mature mind. If you can wait until morning before calling your doctor, then do so. Leave the midnight and weekend calls for emergencies only. This might be a hard concept for young or first-time parents to grasp, for anything slightly out of the ordinary in their children may seem like a devastating emergency.
This is your time, so ask your questions
It is your right to ask questions about your kid’s health, so do not hesitate. If you do it right, you can get a lot of information in a short amount of time during a your kid’s appointment. If you aren’t given a handout with the information written down by your doctor, ask for one, or take your own notes. Ask questions about things you don’t understand. If you don’t ask any questions, don’t go blaming your doctor if he assumes that you understand everything he has said during your child’s appointment!
Try writing down your questions before visiting your doctor’s office so you will not leave out anything. Most parents forget what they wanted to ask during the visit. Having a list of questions or topics that you want to discuss at your appointment will make it more likely that everything is covered and you have no reason to wonder about anything.
Now and then, you may feel you need more time to discuss your child’s problem, so ask if you can schedule an appointment that is longer than your normal visit to the doctor’s office. Alternatively, you can ask if your pediatrician can call you back at the end of the day to answer more questions.
Scheduling an appointment during an offpeak time of year may also increase your chances of getting more time with your doctor. Pediatricians are known to be up to their elbows with little patients during cold and flu seasons, rainy season and also when there are outbreaks like hand, foot and mouth disease or rota virus. Scheduling an appointment during less busier times can help you get more time with the doctor for thorough physical checkups and general questions and queries about your child’s wellbeing.
If your child has more than one health issue, try to schedule specific appointments to talk about the different problems, putting the more severe one first. If you are at a sick visit for a sore throat or an ear infection, then your Pediatrician will likely not have a lot of extra time to also talk about dandruff or a scar, especially if there are many more patients in the waiting room. If you schedule a separate appointment, then you will likely have more time to have the issue checked out.
Leave out the medical lingo!
Many parents love using medical terminology, but end up saying the wrong things. For example, if you call your doctor’s office and say that your child is lethargic, you are likely to be instructed to bring your child in right away. In proper medical terms, lethargic refers to a situation where a person is too tired to even wake up. That is most certainly an emergency.
Many pediatricians had situations where their ‘lethargic’ patients were running around the office, because their parents were convinced they looked tired and were not moving about with as must gusto as usual.