Visiting the Pediatrician

As a pediatrician, I see many parents come in the office with their babies and toddlers. I realize that it can be an anxious time for parents as they are often worried about their child’s health. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your visit to the pediatrician:

Be prepared. Be clear about what your concerns are — write a list, if necessary. It is easy to forget one worry when there is a lot of conversation about another. You want all your concerns dealt with, so make a list. If you have been on the Net and reading health information you want your pediatrician to address, print out a copy and take it with you.

Be specific with your concerns. The pediatrician doesn’t read minds and what might be an obvious concern to you might not be clear to anyone else. Tell him or her what worries you have and why. If you have been reading about a condition and are concerned your baby or toddler might have that condition, say so. That way, your pediatrician can address your concerns specifically. Sometimes, parents are concerned about a disease that is so unlikely that I don’t even think to mention it, so the worry stays with the parents. When I know their concern, I am able to address it specifically, explaining why there is no need to worry or I can arrange further investigation if that is appropriate.

If you don’t understand something that is said, ask. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. Ask for a plain language explanation of what your pediatrician is saying — not the medical jargon version. Sometimes, pediatricians use jargon without even realizing it; we don’t mind if a parent says they don’t understand. Pediatricians want parents to understand what is happening with their children. Keep asking questions until you understand.

Ask for some written information about your child’s condition or what the pediatrician has said. I always send a copy of the letter I write to the referring doctor to the parents as well. There is so much to take in sometimes that the only way patients have any chance of remembering everything is to have it written down so they can refer to it at a later time. Ask for information leaflets on conditions or for Internet sites that have good information.

In summary, to make the most of your visit to the pediatrician: be prepared, ask questions until you understand fully and ask for written back-up. Remember, your pediatrician wants the best for your baby or toddler as well.