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Good pediatricians know that the stronger their relationship with you and your child, the better care they will be able to provide. When parents are comfortable with their pediatrician, they are more likely to share information and ask for advice. Children will also be more relaxed and cooperative during examinations and procedures. Being familiar with your child’s family, siblings, and medical history is also enormously helpful.
The first step in building this relationship is to find a pediatrician who is a good fit for your family. Some people’s personalities work better with others so it is important to find somebody you feel comfortable with. You should also look for somebody who shares similar views on health issues that are important to you. And a good pediatrician should always be willing to listen to your concerns.
Once you have found a pediatrician you like, you will both have to work on developing your relationship. Here are a few things parents can do to help foster that relationship and to make sure that time with their pediatrician is spent wisely.
Make time for well-child visits or check-ups: Pediatricians don’t only treat your children when they are sick, but they also monitor your child’s growth and development, keep your child up-to-date on immunizations, and provide advice on any issues. To do this effectively requires that a pediatrician not only has access to your child’s medical data, but it is also important that the pediatrician knows your child and family personally.
These visits also allow you to get help with things like behavior, nutrition, exercise, emotional problems, learning disabilities, and parenting issues. A good pediatrician should be able to help you with things like advice on helping your child go to sleep at night, how to handle temper tantrums, or how to help children adjust to a traumatic event in their life.
Use your time wisely: Insurance issues are making it so that doctors have less time to spend with patients. To get the most out of your visit, be sure to eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone and when possible try to leave other children with a spouse or friend. If you need to discuss multiple issues, let the receptionist know when scheduling the appointment so that a longer appointment can be scheduled if needed.
Come prepared to share detailed information about your child and any problems he or she might be having. Sometimes it can be easy to forget things, so it might help to take some notes and write down the questions you want to ask. Taking notes during the visit can help you to remember any follow-up visits, lab tests, medications, or treatment. And don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are confused.
Respect your pediatrician’s schedule: Keeping on schedule can be a delicate balancing act for a doctor’s office. Doctors want to give patients the time they need, but also don’t want to leave others in the waiting room for too long. Patients can help with this by being on time for appointments, canceling beforehand if they can’t make it, and understanding that follow-up appointments may need to be scheduled if a lot of different issues are being addressed during one visit. Although it is convenient, parents should resist the urge to ask their pediatrician to squeeze in another sibling during your child’s visit. Unfortunately, doctors are only allowed so much time with patients.
Researching online resources: It is a great idea to use the Internet to read up on topics or conditions that affect your child, but unfortunately not all online sources are created equal. Before you are tempted to take online advice over your pediatrician’s, make sure your information has been well researched and referenced. And remember that your pediatrician has the benefit of seeing not only hundreds of patients over the years, but also being very familiar with your child’s own medical history. While many of the quick solutions and promises found online might seem attractive, it is a good idea to trust your doctor’s judgment. Arguing with your pediatrician about things like a diagnosis, prescriptions, or a plan of treatment can make it difficult for your doctor to treat your child properly.
Be careful not to exhaust your time with your pediatrician with requests to research everything you find online. But if you believe that something is important, be sure to share the article before your visit so that your pediatrician has time to review it.
Our website is also a great and reliable resource with hundreds of articles on medical conditions, health tips, and parenting advice. You can also search for your child’s symptoms using the “Is Your Child Sick?” tool. This tool not only gives you more information about your child’s symptoms, but also some safe ways to treat those symptoms from home when appropriate.
Be familiar with your insurance plan: Be familiar with what your insurance does and does not cover and any copayments. Doctors rarely handle insurance issues personally, so they will not be familiar with your insurance or your particular insurance plan. If you have questions, you will want to work it out with your insurance company and the billing department beforehand. (More information on common financial misperceptions)
Schedule ahead of time for routine check-ups or well-child visits: Most doctors’ offices schedule non-urgent appointments further out so that there is time to make appointments for urgent medical issues when needed. While this can sometimes be frustrating when you want to make an appointment quickly, remember that this approach allows you to schedule urgent appointments when they are needed.
Don’t push for unnecessary medications or treatments: It is so hard to see your children suffer, but sometimes there is no quick fix. Remember to be realistic and not to push for unnecessary medications or treatments. For example, there is still no cure for the common cold and antibiotics in these cases are likely to do more harm than good. Often the best advice is to allow the body time to heal itself.
Don’t be afraid to speak up: If you have a negative experience, don’t be afraid to let the doctor’s office respectfully know. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding that can be remedied and if not, a good doctor’s office will want to know what they can do to improve. They are as invested in seeing this relationship succeed as you are.