Pediatricians are incredible. They’ve chosen a profession caring for screaming and sick children day in and day out. But sometimes, the hardest part of their job isn’t getting coughed on, but rather assuring parents that their child’s cough is not, in fact, a terminal disease.
We asked a few pediatricians to share a few things they wish parents would just stop doing so they can better serve their children.
1. Confusing Google with a medical degree
The number one thing pediatricians told me they wish parents would stop doing is trying to tell the doctor how to diagnose their child.
“Somehow, the library at the University of Google carries more weight than the Library of Congress, National Institute of Medicine and most medical schools,” says Kim Bookout, a pediatrician who practices in Flower Mound, Texas.
Nurses and doctors say they certainly want parents to be informed, but they don’t want you to replace their expertise with what you read on the internet.
“They’ve done their research from the internet and say, ‘This is what I want you to do,'” says Donald Palmer, a retired pediatrician from Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Simply put: Being informed and doing some research is important, but leave the doctoring to the doctor.
2. Not making separate appointments for each of your children
You’re busy and your kids aren’t feeling their best. It may seem like no big deal to make an appointment for one child but have the doctor “take a quick look” at the others while he or she is there. Wrong.
Palmer says a pediatrician’s office runs on a tight schedule, and when an appointment slot for one child suddenly becomes two or three children, it throws the whole schedule off.
If you’ve ever wondered why you are never seen at your scheduled appointment time, this is partially to blame.
3. Ignoring the doctor’s orders
Eat healthy, mind your parents, wear your bike helmet. These are things I heard each time I visited Palmer as a child. But he wasn’t saying these things lightly. I learned this after speaking with him now as a grown adult. He says that it’s frustrating to remind kids — and their parents — to take simple precautions, such as wearing a bike helmet, year after year.
When it comes to children’s illnesses, the same frustrations stand. Bookout said parents frequently call the after-hours emergency line and are advised to take their child to urgent care or the emergency room. But the next day, when the office calls to follow up about the emergency visit, many parents didn’t end up taking their child in. The same is true when parents refuse vaccinations or care instructions for any illness. Why ask for a professional’s advice if you aren’t going to take it?
“You can give them all kinds of evidence-based information, but they’ll still do what they want,” Palmer said.
4. Arriving late or not showing to your appointment
Pediatricians love their patients, but they adhere to a tight schedule to ensure everyone receives the care they need on the day of their appointment. A group of medical residents told me it does no good to show up to your appointment late and become angry for not being seen right away upon your arrival.
Additionally, Dr. Bookout says “no call no-shows” are particularly frustrating, especially when they have same-day appointments. If you are running late or can’t make an appointment, be sure to give the office a call to let them know.
Again, no one likes waiting for their appointment longer than necessary, so doing your part to keep the schedule moving is essential to keeping everyone happy.