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.

15 Responses to Ten Things Your Pediatrician Wants to Tell You But Never Will
  1. Malia
    September 16, 2010 | 10:06 am

    #6 made me giggle and cringe because I’m afraid I may have THAT child in a few years. Le sigh.

  2. jeffra
    September 16, 2010 | 10:06 am

    It is interesting. I thought I would have an “A-HA” moment reading this. Sadly, it is all common sense and respect that is not so common anymore. Interestingly enough, these same issues can all be translated into my field in mental health. Apparently a) the same people who need a pediatrician also need a therapist 🙂 b) both coasts could use etiquette and common sense training in schools…wow.

    • Bridget
      September 16, 2010 | 10:09 am

      Yes, yes, yes! (Although I didn’t put down *every* idea we bounced around for a good reason! Some things are best left unsaid. *grin*)

  3. Lindsay @ Just My Blog
    September 16, 2010 | 11:03 am

    These are the reasons I love my pediatrician. He really does care about the kids and truly doesn’t mind if I HAVE to call him at inconvenient hours. I’ve only had to do it once and in that one time, he let me know that he would be our pediatrician for a long long time.

  4. sarah
    September 16, 2010 | 11:14 am

    I’m laughing at number 6 also. My eight year old shows no sign of not being that kid at 17.

  5. Marla
    September 16, 2010 | 1:01 pm

    I know parents don’t like to feel like they’re inconveniencing doctors (at least most don’t). Perhaps some patient education is in order, if these things are big problems. We had Kaiser when my children were small, and the doctors were scheduled so that none were inconvenienced too much. There were also wonderful advice nurses who screened parental calls, and then counseled parents as to whether their child needed to be seen in the ER/urgent care/or regular office hours (or not at all). It was a good system. Maybe more docs could benefit from something like it. All of us parents, after all, benefit from happy docs.

  6. Liz Sanders
    September 16, 2010 | 1:41 pm

    We love, love, love, our peditrician! He is brash and up front, and tells us everything in detail. And…even though he knows we have 4 kids he still takes the time to explain things we might have forgotten. Another things that’s nice? Being able to see the PA if the doctor is busy. There are times when we need the Dr. and times when he can put more of his time to someone with a higher priority.

  7. Allison
    September 16, 2010 | 4:25 pm

    I have NO DOUBT that my 9 yo is/will be #6. At his 9 year check up, every. single. person in the office heard him screaming, and ALL of the nurses came in as re-enforcements. I have NEVER been so embarrassed. The rest is “not-so-common” sense that most people don’t have any more.

  8. Pauline Howerton
    September 17, 2010 | 7:59 am

    Great article!! I have to admit, I have learned a few of these the hard way. Although, unless it is life or death (which has only happened once and I have 5 children!!) I never call my dr. at odd hours. Every new parent should read this-so helpful!!!

    I will say that being friendly to the staff is very important–they are the gate keepers!! 🙂 I completely go out of my way to be friendly and make their job as easy as possible. But I think that doctors are sometimes not aware of how the rude the staff can be to the patients. I have never said anything many times (at different offices) b/c I don’t want to risk my relationship with my doctor-whom I love. I think some staff members take advantage of this (there’s usually one in every office!!).

  9. Kate Wicker@ Momopoly
    September 17, 2010 | 9:01 am

    I linked to this from my blog – great list.

    Pauline, my husband is a doctor (not a pediatrician though), but once I encountered a very rude staff member in an old pediatrician practice. I complained to him about it, and he said you need to call the doctor and let her know. I was reluctant to do this feeling like a tattle tail or something, but I followed his advice because he told me that doctors want to make sure their patients are being treated with courtesy even when administrative aggravations arise. I’m glad I followed his advice because the doctor thanked me and said that this was the second complaint about this particular staff person and that she was going to be sure to address it. Well, I was never treated rudely again.

  10. Maria
    September 17, 2010 | 11:49 am

    Good reminders. It goes both ways though. As a mother of ten children, I have found many doctors/practices who are not understanding or even conscious of parents with more than two kids. For example, not being willing to call in prescriptions ahead of time for the parents of a sick child; not letting a parent schedule back to back appts. for more than two children. They make it so hard sometimes.

  11. Annette
    September 17, 2010 | 8:38 pm

    I found your blog from The Planet Pink. It’s quite creative. I can emapathize with this top ten list. Although I do not know what it’s like to be a doctor/pediatrician, I can imagine the kinds of phone calls one must get from overly worried parents and parents who simply love to procrastinate about conditions until they get out of control. I know doctors work hard and have very difficult schedules; therefore, I’m in agreement that they need some family time too (a.k.a. time without a pager going off.) Have a great weekend!

  12. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith
    September 19, 2010 | 7:41 pm

    Love the plumber comment…

  13. Alice@Supratentorial
    September 21, 2010 | 7:46 pm

    Nice blog and great list! As a pediatrician I particularly get frustrated by #4.

    You (and your husband) might enjoy this post I wrote about a year ago. I was very pregnant and a bit grumpy at the time but it was still valid.


  14. Christy Lawson
    October 4, 2010 | 5:43 pm

    I love this list. It applies so well medicine in general!! Thanks for giving me a good laugh.