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Ten Things Your Pediatrician Wants to Tell You But Never Will

As a doctor’s wife, I hear one half of a lot of on-call conversations.
I also get to hear the things that my husband says after he hangs up the phone or gets home after a long day.
He is very, very careful about not breaking HIPAA regulations so I don’t get details,
But I have learned a few basic things along the way that other parents might like to know.

Ten Things Your Pediatrician Wants to Tell You But Never Will

1. I don’t mind if you call me on the weekend.  Really, I don’t.  But if your child has been having a problem since Tuesday and you wait until Saturday night to call me, there’s not going to be a whole lot I can do for you.

2. Before you call me at 2am, ask yourself: “Is (s)he going to tell me to do anything right now or just tell me to meet in the office first thing in the morning?”  Because if the answer is “meet me in the office first thing in the morning” then you can just call me early in the morning instead of waking me up.  (Also?  A great resource for parents that will answer a lot of usual questions is healthychildren.org by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The information found here is sound and very helpful to most parents.)

3. It’s generally not a good thing if you page me and I recognize your phone number.  Call me if you need me, but sometimes babies cry for no reason and sometimes they just don’t sleep.  Learning when to worry and when not to worry is hard, I know, but please refer to #2 before you call me.

4. If you page me, I will do my best to call you right back.  Please do me the courtesy of answering your phone when I call.  It’s very frustrating to stop what I’m doing and call you back only to get your voice mail.

5.  Along the same lines, please get off of your phone when I am in the exam room.  Especially with small children, I need your attention and your input.  We are trying our best to stay on schedule and if I have to wait on you to finish a call, then I’m going to be late for my next patient.

6. When getting a shot or fingerstick, your 17 year old should not out-scream or out-cry the 3 year old in Room 1.

7.  I love informed parents and I heartily believe in parental intuition.  I also know that you researched your child’s problem on the internet and that Dr. Google is telling you that the diagnosis is _______.   I don’t think I’m better than you, smarter than you or anything like that…but I don’t tell my plumber how to fix my pipes, and I hope that you won’t tell me how to do my job.

8. Being nice to my staff can sometimes be to your advantage.  (*hint*hint*)

9.  Your one appointment for your one child with one problem really shouldn’t turn into one appointment for three kids with multiple problems.  I don’t mind working with you on each of these issues, but adding extra problems or extra children to an appointment makes me run behind.  Let my scheduler know ahead of time how many children you want to be seen and which issues you’d like to discuss and we will try our best to set aside ample time to address all of your concerns.

10. Sure your kid is cute, but my kid is cuter.  (Just kidding.)  (A little.)

The real 10.  All pediatricians are different, just like all teachers or mechanics are different.  If you are uncomfortable with your child’s pediatrician or worried about her/his practice methods, it is okay to find another pediatrician who “fits” your family better.  But please don’t doctor-hop.  Continuity of care is very important and can only be developed over time.

Special thanks to Marshall and many of our pediatrician friends for their input on this list.