Video: Talking to Your Doctor Effectively
Your relationship with your child’s doctors and therapists might be some of the most important relationships you form beyond your family and friends. Ideally, you will share your feelings, hopes, and challenges with this team. Having these close relationships is essential for your medical team to work for you and your child.
But, like any good relationships, these will require work. There are times when the relationships might push you outside your comfort zone. Maybe you will have to ask your doctor for more time, to explain something until it makes sense to you, or give you clear information on testing.
Remember, the work you’re doing is all centered on your child, who plays a very active part in this process. Be aware of how your child responds to visits with doctors and therapists. The doctor’s office might be a safe place to teach your child to manage anxieties that come up in the outside world. It can also be a great chance for your child to learn the important skill of asking and answering questions for themselves.
By building good relationships with your child’s doctors, you are taking a very important step in supporting your child’s long-term care.
Best Practices You Can Expect From Medical Professionals
There are certain things that you can – and should – expect from your doctors. Doctors and their office staff should:
- Answer you and your child’s questions in a patient, kind, and easy-to-understand way.
- Be trained and able to meet your child’s needs.
- Do their best to make you and your child comfortable, including offering a quiet environment, private waiting rooms, and shorter wait times.
- Treat your child respectfully, as a person with unique needs.
- Speak directly to your child, too, and not always just to you.
- Give more time for a visit when you ask for it.
- Listen carefully when you and your child express needs and preferences.
- Share complete information with you in words you can understand.
- Refer you to specialists and quickly follow through with paperwork.
Tips From Parents for a Good Doctor’s Visit
- Research your child’s condition or symptoms before you go in. Ask lots of questions.
- Write out all of your questions before you go. If possible, email them to the doctor ahead of time.
- Do not leave the visit until all of your questions have been answered in a way that makes sense to you.
- Bring a friend or family member to take notes and help with your child, or ask the doctor if you can record the visit.
- Ask for the same doctor every time.
- Bring your care notebook to every visit and update it with new information. Learn more about organizing medical records.
- Try to schedule your visit at a good time for your child.
- Ask for extra time before you go to the visit.
- Bring snacks, toys, books, or games to keep your child occupied in the waiting and exam rooms.
- Try to act out the doctor’s visit with your child before you go.
- Ask your doctor’s office to prepare a special waiting room or quiet area if your child needs it.
- Treat your child’s doctor with the same respect you want for your child.
- Do not leave the visit without knowing what the next step is.
- Find out the best way to get in touch with your child’s doctor between visits.
Five Questions Parents Suggest You Ask:
- Can you explain this to me again? What you’re saying still doesn’t quite make sense.
- What are all my conventional (typical) and alternative treatment options, even beyond the ones my insurance company will pay for?
- Will you look into this further or recommend someone who can?
- Which specialists and therapists do I need to work with and where can I find them?
- What are our next steps?
Suggested Links to Additional Resources