Most parents have comfortable, positive relationships with their child’s various health and wellness professionals. However, talking to health professionals can be intimidating, even for parents with healthcare backgrounds. You may feel unsure of your information, you may worry that you will be judged, and you may be expecting to have to fight for what you think needs to happen. It is important to remember that these professionals are on the same team as you are. The common denominator here is your child’s health and wellness. When difficulties do arise between parent and health practitioner, they tend to be based on communication issues.
In an ideal world, health professionals would have ample time to sit down and review every child’s health and wellness at a leisurely pace. Unfortunately, in the real world, appointments with physicians and other health professionals have major time constraints. Making sure that you are heard is very important. This is not as difficult as you may think. Below, are suggestions that will help you to get the most out of your appointments, and to develop mutually respectful relationships with your child’s health and wellness team.
- When you book an appointment, be clear about what your concern is. If you have more than one issue that you would like addressed, be sure to specify this, to ensure that the appropriate time is scheduled. If new concerns have arisen since you booked the appointment, call ahead to see if the time can be adjusted. Similarly, call ahead, or book a separate appointment, if you have another child who needs to be seen.
- Be prepared. Arrive at the appointment with all of the information that you think will be required. Bring a list of current medications, as well as vitamins and natural remedies, that your child is taking. If you are seeing a specialist, make sure you have all of the related details with you. Write information down if you think you’ll forget. If you have been using this book, this will be easy – just bring it with you!
- Prioritize your concerns. Because time is usually limited, it is best to decide ahead of schedule what your most important concerns are. State what these are, at the beginning of your appointment, so that you and your health practitioner can organize your time. It is tempting to leave the concern that is hardest to talk about to the end. Unfortunately, this is usually the most important one. Start with the toughest issues, and you’ll feel better once they have been given a voice.
- Be brief, very specific, and factual in your description of the problem. Busy health professionals must quickly arrive at conclusions, and you want these conclusions to be based on the facts that are most important. Come to the appointment with details, and offer them without being asked. Be sure to include the following information:
When did you first notice this problem? Has it stayed the same, or changed?
Is there pain? Is the pain constant, or intermittent?
What makes it better? Worse?
Has this ever happened before? How was it treated in the past?
Is there a fever? What is it?
Is there swelling? Has this increased, or decreased?
Is there discharge? What does it look like?
Have your child’s sleep/eating/behavior patterns been affected?