June 4, 2018

With a little planning, parents can make visits to the doctor go more smoothly for their kids.


As a pediatrician, I’ve learned that a visit to the doctor’s office can be a stressful event for parents and their children. We know medical procedures such as shots can be scary and painful. With a little preparation and planning, your visit can be a helpful, nurturing and educational experience for you and your child.

1. Prepare your child for the visit before you arrive.

Let her know generally what to expect. Reading stories about going to the doctor or playing with a “doctor kit” at home will take some of the mystery out of the visit.

2. Don’t promise “no shots.”

If your child asks about shots, tell her with confidence that a shot is important medicine that helps her stay strong and healthy. If she needs a specific answer about vaccinations, it’s best to say, “I don’t know, we’ll see when we get there.” There may be vaccinations you are not aware of, and we don’t want your child to think you are breaking a promise. If a child has been told by parents that she is not getting shots but we find they are needed, I generally say something along the lines of, “Your mom didn’t know, but today you DO need a shot.”

3. Write down your questions and bring a list to the visit.

Tell us your concerns early in the visit so we can prioritize and cover the most important topics.

4. Arrive at the pediatrician’s office 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment time.

An early arrival allows time for the check-in process including completion of forms and providing insurance information. Be sure to bring your insurance card and your child’s immunization record to each visit.

5. Allow plenty of time for the visit.

There’s a lot more to the visit than your face-to-face time with your doctor. For example, well visits include taking measurements such as height, weight and blood pressure, as well as checking vision and hearing. It takes time to work with each child to obtain accurate measurements. Nurses will review questions with you before the doctor enters your room. We may have health screening or developmental questionnaires for you to complete, and we’ll review these during your visit. Administering vaccinations takes extra time as well. After the physician examines your child, we’ll prepare some paperwork with recommendations for you to take home.

Throughout the whole process, try to have a positive attitude about the experience for your child. Your confidence and positive attitude go a long way to helping your child handle the process and recover quickly.


Dr. Rachel Lenox Mace is a general pediatrician with the University Pediatrics practice at Vanderbilt Health at One Hundred Oaks.  She is the mother of 3 and enjoys cooking and reading.