Here are a few things you can do to help get the most out of your visit to the pediatrician.
- Prepare your child. Before the visit, talk with your child about what will happen at the visit. It is a lot less scary if the child knows what to expect. For example, in a well-child check, your child will likely be asked to wear a gown. Explain that the doctor will listen to the heart, look in the ears, etc.
- Focus on the positives. When an office visit involves something negative or scary to a child (e.g., vaccinations), try to distract the child and focus on the other positive things (e.g., getting to choose a sticker at the end of the visit or going to the park after the visit).
- Allow the child to be a part of the conversation, especially sensitive topics. Parents want to protect their children and can erroneously think excluding a child from certain topics (e.g., bullying, suicide, bed wetting, constipation, weight, failing grades, ADHD) is protecting them from embarrassment. It is often quite the contrary. The child already knows the problem and it is often relieved to have it in the open. Kids can offer insight and often welcome discussing options for help. It is never as embarrassing as parents think. Of course, there are topics that are certainly inappropriate to have in front of children (e.g., frustrations with exes or spouses, financial concerns).
- Bring supporting documents. Such documents include: vaccination records, growth curves, lab tests, x-ray results, medication names and doses, etc. This is especially important when visiting the doctor for the first time, getting a second opinion, or following up after visits elsewhere (like the ER).
- Schedule appropriately. If you have two children to be seen (or that you intend on asking about), schedule two appointments. This allows the doctor enough time to address all of the issues and questions. I’ve been a patient and hate waiting for doctors. (This is why I don’t “double book” patients as a doctor, it always makes you late). When doctors run behind schedule or are late, it is often due to poor scheduling. In our office, certain situations/circumstances get slotted extra time. For example, new patients, well visits, circumcisions, second opinions, chronic/long-standing medical problems, ADHD, STDs/pelvic exams get longer in the schedule. So when you schedule the appointment, be forthright about the reason so you can get as much time as needed.
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