AAs a pediatrician for many many years, there are a few things I’ve seen that can make for a more effective visit – I want to share these with you!
- Be prepared! I love when patients come with a list of questions or concerns. Write them down because often you will forget. Keep a running list on your phone or in a notebook between appointments. If you are asked to fill out any questionnaires, try to do so before coming to the visit. All of this will make the visit more efficient.
- Share! In addition to getting information, you should be giving information. Since your last visit, has your child been to a specialist or had an injury/hospitalization? Is your child on any new medications or have there been changes in dosing? If you want to discuss a concern without your child present, please tell the staff before so we can meet with you a few minutes before the visit in another room. Also, don’t wait – start with your most important concern. This way, I will be able to look for information regarding your concern during the physical exam.
- Be present! Check-ups are important visits and you need to avoid distractions. If possible, try to bring only the child scheduled for the appointment. If that is not possible, I often ask parents if I can send siblings out to color or talk with nursing staff. When you are actively engaged, you will get more out of the visit.
- Prepare! Before the visit, discuss what will happen with your child. In our office, we want all patients to be undressed to their underwear and in gowns – it allows for a thorough exam. Let them know this may be the case. Do not tell them that shots won’t hurt , and please do not say, “If you do not behave, the doctor will give you a shot. ” That can undermine the relationship between the doctor and your child.
- Shhh! As soon as possible, let your child communicate. As soon as a child can communicate, I like to talk to them, so do not jump in and answer questions for them. Not only am I learning about them; I am also listening for any language difficulties, temperament issues like shyness or anxiety, and also any concerns they may have themselves. I learn a lot from speaking with the child directly.
After the check-up is over, check in with yourself about how you feel. Never leave a visit confused. Ask for clarification. Write down specific advice. And always know you can call back if you need to double check. Together we can make your visit a success!