What you should expect from your pediatrician
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I consider myself so lucky to have a great pediatrics office so close to home. Jack calls his pediatrician by name, gives her hugs, and knows which cabinet the lollipops are in.
But this great relationship is not by chance, it's the intentional environment created by his pediatrician.
Being a nurse before I had Jack helped me overcome any anxieties about being an active advocate for his health. Every parent should be included and respected in regards to health decisions they make about their children.
Here are some of the positive things we've experienced with Jacks pediatrician that I think every parent should expect: (I will be forever thankful for #3)
1. Ease of communication:
Everyone knows that new and veteran parents all get anxious when their kids are sick. Your pediatrician should be eager and willing to answer any of your questions and explain things like vaccine schedules, growth charts, ect. I pay attention to how the office staff communicate with each other because everyone does a better job when they are happy and respected. Communication to me also includes how easy it is to get ahold of the office if I'm trying to decide to take Jack to the office or the ER.
*PRO TIP*: Make sure to get the after hours number for your pediatricians office and you might be able to save yourself a visit to the emergency department if your pediatrician can help you over the phone.
I think this goes without saying, but some are more professional than others. I don't want anyone that is rushed, not well rested, or lacking confidence, taking care of my son. Be on the lookout for these signs and empower yourself to speak out when your pediatrician isn't behaving professionally. Ultimately, you are paying for a service that other people can provide.
If your pediatrician is unprofessional, consider a switch. if you find yourself waiting hours past a scheduled appointment on a routine basis, talk to the office about your concerns and the best times to schedule appointments. Your time is valuable too.
(While we wait in the office Jack plays with his favorite activity book. The Busy Train book by Jim Field and Fiona Watt has been a huge help with keeping Jack occupied when we wait anywhere. A small red train zooms across tracks on each page taking him on adventures starting at the station and ending at the zoo.)
3. *Setting the stage for safety:
Everyone is used to babies being naked at the pediatricians office, maybe in a diaper to prevent free .flying blowouts (so many blowouts...). But as your baby grows into a toddler, it's important to set the stage for safe boundaries with adults. Jack is a talkative two year old, and loves interacting with people. One day at a check up, his wonderful pediatrician did something that completely changed the way I view safety with my son.
Before checking his private area she said, "Jack, this is only ok for me to do because your mother is here and I am your doctor." - Pediatrician
I remember thinking, wait what? He's only two? But he seemed to understand, he was calm, and reassured. I will never forget that moment as a parent because it reminded me that the world is bigger than that room and there are people who aren't safe for kids to be around. By being attentive and thoughtful, she gave us the gift of safety. She didn't have to sit me down and tell me about the worlds dangers, she just treated the patient (my son) like a human being. Her professionalism got me thinking about how often we as parents (me included) expose our kids, without having conversations about safety and privacy. I want to say that I would have thought about all these things on my own, but I hadn't yet. I will always be thankful for that moment when she empowered Jack to have a voice about his own body, and empowered me to protect him.
I hope you can find a pediatrician that is as wonderful as ours, and that they can be a good role model for your kids. I always try to make going to the pediatrician fun for Jack so that he continues to take care of himself as an adult. I truly believe that childhood experiences have a lasting effect on how we experience things. So next time you take your child to the pediatrician, show some excitement, take a new toy with you, let them have that second lollipop, and have a discussion with them about taking care of their bodies on a level they will understand.
What do you like about your pediatrician? How do you teach your kids about their health? Leave a comment below!