by Andrea Zets, M.D.
Going to the doctor's office can be a stressful occasion for the whole family. As a pediatrician, I want to make sure that the kids I take care of are happy and healthy -- and that their parents have a chance to address any concerns. And this all has to happen within 20 minutes, so I don't keep my other patients waiting! To maximize our time together and help the visit go off without a hitch, there are a few smart moves moms can make. Here's what I recommend to de-stress your next doctor's visit:
Bring your child's paperwork
Keep your child's medical files in an easy-to-find location. If you're a first-time patient, provide the doctor's office with your medical history and files. That way, we won't have to track down things like allergies and vaccination histories during the appointment. Also, remember to bring in any forms or waivers that your child needs to be filled out for school, sports and activities.
Think about what you want to address
When I'm wrapping up a visit, parents will often mention an important issue that requires more careful examination. To make sure that you don't forget anything -- and that I have enough time to examine any problems -- jot down a little list of all the conditions and concerns that you want to discuss. You may also want to call or email me before coming in. For instance, if you're worried because your child can't concentrate in school, I sometimes have his or her teachers fill out a questionnaire before the visit.
Keep track of symptoms
Take note of when your child developed her problem and how often it occurs, such as when she started getting headaches and how long they last. Knowing the complete picture can help me make a diagnosis.
Prep your child
Before the appointment, let your kids know why they're seeing the doctor. One exception: If you know that getting a shot makes your child anxious and worried, skip telling her. She may spend the entire visit in tears.
Don't promise "no shots!" or "no medicine!" Instead, just say that you're not sure. Your child shouldn't feel like you've betrayed her. Also, don't use needles as a bartering chip. I've had some parents tell their kids, "If you're bad, Dr. Zets will give you shot." Not only does this portray me as the bad guy, it also encourages a fear of doctors!