Have you ever wondered if you’re a difficult parent in the eyes of your doctor? As a pediatrician, of course, I think a lot about parents. They carry the responsibility of doing what needs to be done for my patients. How I get along with them and how they get along with me naturally influences their child’s care. Like assessing any relationship, it’s helpful sometime to take stock of what you’re doing or not doing to make things better.
So what can you do to improve your parent-doctor relationship? More importantly, what are some simple things you can you do to increase the odds that your child will get the best care possible?
Be on time. Look at punctuality as the first sign that you’re serious about your child’s care. And while your pediatrician should value your time as much as his, don’t count on it even in a well-run office.
Remember you’re not the only one with a sick child. Boutique medical care is quickly becoming a thing of the 20th century, so reconsider the expectation of immediate callbacks and unlimited time in the exam room. Be prepared with your most important questions and make sure your key concerns are addressed before the close of the visit. Remember that the best doctors are always busy and that means that you’ve got to share his or her time and attention with lost of other families.
Treat the staff right. I’m always amazed at those parents who are nice to me and rude to my nurse. In a medical office everyone is involved in looking after the well-being of your child. And everyone talks. Do your best to cultivate a great relationship with everyone from the receptionist on up.
Don’t get caught in the web. Remember that is not your doctor’s responsibility to explain what you read on a web page. While your pediatrician should always be able to back up what he or she recommends, be careful about challenging their opinion with online information. Raw information will never take the place of experience and great judgment. Use the web to educate yourself but ultimately you have to have faith in the person you’ve chosen to be immediately responsible for your child.
If you don’t like something, politely state your case. Recognize your own concerns and if they’re not addressed, speak up. Doctors refer to a patient’s secret concerns as their ‘hidden agenda.’ It’s why they’re really there. Do your best to make that agenda clear and you’ll avoid the hard feelings that come with not having your mind read. If you’re not being heard or you’re afraid to open up, the relationship may not be working.
If it’s not working, find another doctor. Remember that what you share with your pediatrician is just as unique and complex as the relationship you share with a friend or close business colleague. And you need to recognize that what works for your neighbor may not work for you. Identify what you want in a doctor and look for it. You happiness will make you a better parent and ultimately a better advocate for your child.
Oh, and a couple of other things: Don’t demand antibiotics and always remember that your doctor may be just as frustrated as you are. Good luck and always remember that you bear the responsibility of representing your child.