Your child may have challenging behaviors that become a concern while you are at their doctor appointment. Medical conditions may worsen while you are waiting. You may find that by the time your child’s name is called they (and you) are already getting stressed out and frustrated. If you have other children with you, it can make things worse. Then, when the doctor comes into the examining room, your child may not be very cooperative.
When that happens, having an effective visit may seem like an impossible dream. Don’t despair though! I’ve made a list of the things that have helped get the most out of each doctor visit.
Keep a calendar for your child and write down as much as you can about their medical issues and behaviors. Keep track of any changes in medications from other doctors and side effects or changes in your child, if any. If any tests were done, write down the date, the name of the test and the results. It might be helpful to make a copy of the results for your child’s doctor. Make a note of your child’s weight and any measurements that were taken since the last visit with the doctor.
A few days before your child’s doctor appointment, gather all of that information and put it in a letter or outline that you can give to the doctor. Be sure to keep a copy for your files. Include what has happened since your child’s last visit. Make a note of how things are going right now. Update the list of medications and dosages your child is taking and write down any questions or concerns you might have about them. If there have been positive changes, be sure to share that with your child’s doctor as well.
Depending on what works best for you and your child’s doctor, you may give the letter or outline to the person at the front desk when you arrive. Or, you might wait until the doctor joins you in the exam room. The information you provide should be as brief as possible while still providing all of the critical information. This will help your child’s doctor have a better understanding of how your child is doing. Including any questions you may have on the document you give the doctor will help make sure you get the answers you need to take proper care of your child. This is a simple tool but one that will help you make sure your child’s doctor visit is an effective one.
Here are a few other ideas to help make your child’s doctor visit the best it can be. Take a look at our page on (How to Talk to Your Child’s Doctor) [Link to How to Talk to Your Child’s Doctor] on this website. Don’t miss the video with Dr. Carl Tapia on this website: Talking to Your Doctor (Effectively) – it’s terrific (and so is Dr. Tapia)! Learn more about a medical home and how it can benefit your child (and help make every doctor visit an effective one) by reading What is a Patient-Centered Medical Home for Children? Download the Texas Medical Home Toolkit from TxP2P’s website. Another great tool is the Care Notebook, also available for download from the Texas Parent to Parent website.