Preparing For “The Visit”
As the summer comes to an end and schools are reopening, parents are scrambling to get their kids ready for the new school year. One of the most important things to get done is your teen’s annual physical, if you have not done so earlier. Some parents think that this is only important for student athletes, who need the physical done to enable them to participate in sports. They don’t realize that this exam known as the Well Child Check also gives the physician or midlevel provider the opportunity to get to know your children, and find out how well your teens are navigating the adolescent journey. We get to see how well your child is growing and catch them up on their immunizations. Teens are also quite honest with their doctors and we find out how well the teen is coping with the challenges of the teen years. Your providers can also give you tips on how to deal with some of the problems you may be facing with the teen, and help bridge the gap in communication that sometimes occurs.
To make this visit worth your while though, you have to prepare for it and below are a few tips to help you make the most of your time with the doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
1. Schedule the Appointment
Sounds like a moot point, but not so. So many parents wait till the last minute to schedule the appointment and a routine visit, suddenly becomes an “emergency.” For some teens, this is really very important since without a form from your doctor saying your child is healthy enough to participate in sports, they lose the opportunity to play. Schedules fill up quickly, and as much as your doctor’s office may be willing to work with you, they simply may not have the availability. This visit is important so if you haven’t done so, please schedule the visit now.
2. Come prepared
Come with a list of questions you want to discuss, and stick with it. Remember you only have a limited amount of time for your visit so come in with your burning questions. Also if you need to have any document filled, remember to fill in your part and then bring the document in with you. Get it done right away. Parents get frustrated when they leave the form at home and then they have to find time to bring it in and they may have to wait a day or two for it to be filled. Come prepared and make your visit count.
3. Be Understanding
There are times when your provider may ask you to leave the room to have a private conversation with your teen. This is a sore point for a lot of parents and some get offended at this request. Being a parent too, I completely understand. You feel like you know your child and have their best interest at heart and you have a right to know everything that is going on with them. As true as this may be, I must reassure parents that your doctor and midlevel providers, really do want what is best for both you and your child. In some instances, teens feel more comfortable talking to their providers privately without feeling like their being judged by their parents. Also, if a teen is sexually active and prefers to have privacy, we are required to ask the parent to give the teen that choice. Providers do advocate for parents and really want parents involved in the care of their teens but ultimately it is the teen’s choice. Be reassured though that your provider will always hold your teen accountable and dissuade them and advise them against doing anything illegal or harmful. If a provider ever felt that your teen was a danger to himself or others, they would let you know and offer the family the appropriate help they need. Another way to look at it is to be happy that your teen trusts the provider and is willing to be honest with them. The provider in turn can advise your teen in a non-judgmental way and sometimes teach them how to better communicate with you.
4. Be Courteous
In this era of technology, everybody is hooked to their cell phones and tablets but the doctor’s office is not the place to do this, at least not while the doctor or provider is in the room with you. Remember, there are others waiting to be seen. Please don’t expect the provider to wait for you to finish your phone conversation before attending to your teen. Also, be courteous to all the staff. There are some parents who are impolite to everyone they meet except the provider. Everyone is there to make your visit as seamless and enjoyable as possible so please treat them with respect. Also, your teens are watching and will react the same way towards you. Sometimes the wait may be longer than expected but remember we are dealing with people and unforeseen things can happen. Be courteous and patient and you will be afforded the same care when it is your turn.
5. Be open
I’m all for coming to the visit prepared but realize that it takes more than WebMD to make a diagnosis. Ask questions and give your suggestions. Absolutely, we expect you to do that. But be open and listen to what your provider has to say. There may be some signs that you may not have noticed and there could be other possibilities other than what you are thinking of so be open, listen and ask questions. Don’t insist on what you want because that may not be in the best interest of your child. By all means, seek a second opinion if you must but at least listen.
Your doctor, nurse practitioner or midlevel looks forward to seeing your teens and interacting with them. We are advocates for your children and we provide a safe place for them to talk to us. Parents, please realize we are your allies, even as you navigate the sometimes difficult teen journey. If you haven’t done so, please go ahead and schedule your child’s Well Child Check exam.
Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood,…..
Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast.
Dr. Marian Pobee: Pediatrician – 10 years Dallas/Fort Worth Area
In addition to regular pediatric responsibilities, I provide anticipatory guidance to parents and their children in the areas of nutrition, fitness, drugs, alcohol and other life events.