April 27, 2016

Summer check-ups are just around the corner, which makes now a good time to strengthen the bond with your pediatrician.


Choosing the right pediatrician can feel daunting for parents. Many make the decisions when they are expecting their first child. If the family and the pediatrician connect, it is a relationship that could last 18 years or more. This is why it is so important to be intentional in your relationship with your pediatrician.

My children are still quite young (7, 4 and 1), but our pediatrician has already played a significant role in their lives. I value her and am so grateful for the care that she provides. Moreover, because I work in healthcare, I see the ways people act toward their physicians and staff and the difference kindness and respect makes.

With summer check-ups just around the corner, consider the following eight tips for building (or strengthening) your relationship with your child’s pediatrician.

1) Come to the appointments prepared

Take a few minutes and make a list of questions/concerns. I typically make a note in my phone and then add to it as I think of things to ask. This ensures that I have fully informed my pediatrician of any concerns and eliminates having to call the nurse about something I forgot to ask. It also demonstrates to the pediatrician that you care about the appointment. Also, have these notes prioritized in case you don’t have time to get through everything. (For instance, if your appointment is about strep throat, it may not be the best time to discuss a behavior issue in-depth.)

2) Arrive on time for your child’s doctor appointment

Be respectful of the doctor’s schedule by arriving to your appointment on time. With young children, this means allowing plenty of time to get in the car, get buckled in car seats, etc. If you are running late, call the office.

3) Be kind to office and hospital staff

The office staff and nurses should be treated with the same kindness and respect that you give to your pediatrician. It definitely makes a difference in the care of your child.

4) Don’t sneak a child onto an appointment

If one child is being seen for a rash, don’t nonchalantly ask if the pediatrician can check out another issue for a sibling. If two children need to be seen, be forthcoming with that information when you make the appointment so that the scheduler can give enough time for the pediatrician to care for both children.

5) Take notes while visiting with the pediatrician

Your child’s pediatrician will typically have a lot of information to share with you, so be sure to take good notes so that you remember everything. This will prevent you from possibly giving the wrong dose of medicine, needing to call the office to confirm a detail that you forgot, etc. Also be sure to note if your child had any labs done so that you can follow up, if necessary.

6) Be honest with your child’s doctor

This is incredibly important. Your pediatrician can only support your child’s health and wellness journey if she knows the whole story. Don’t withhold information and remember that honesty cultivates a mutual respect.

7) Share about other medical treatment and hospital visits

Be sure to share if your child has seen another provider, such as at a walk-in clinic. (Vanderbilt Children’s After-Hours Clinics always communicate visit information with pediatricians.)

8)Show appreciation to your pediatrician

Over the years I have written cards of thanks to my pediatrician, sent Christmas cards and brought treats to the office. My kids have colored pictures and given stickers. I believe these small gestures go a long way in acknowledging how much she and her care means to us.

What would you add to this list?