Making Minutes Count

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Although I share an office with my children’s pediatrician, I try my best to reserve talking to her about them until their routine well child exams.  Waiting months for these appointments though can be hard.  I am always anxious to see how much they have grown, my husband and I often betting on the over/under, and hearing her assessment of their health.  During these appointments there are moments of pride (G developed her social smile early), moments of embarrassment (N refused to get on the scale alone, so my coworker weighed me as well), and moments of shame (I routinely forget to give G her Vitamin D), but overall I have a lot of fun.

When I take my kids for their appointments, I only wear my mommy hat, even though I am in my own office and could easily jump into pediatrician mode.  For example, G threw up her dose of the Rotavirus vaccine and the nurse asked, “Dr. Lockwood, what should we do?  Do you want to give another dose?”.  I knew what I would do if this were my patient, but this isn’t my patient, it’s my daughter.  So I responded, “Let’s ask Dr. O what she wants.”  I am happy to engage my children’s pediatrician in an academic discussion, if needed, but ultimately she is their pediatrician and I am their mom.

Like most parents, I enjoy talking about my kids (um, hello, have you read this blog before).  So, a 20-minute appointment flies by.  Since their pediatrician is my colleague and friend, she often spends much longer than the allotted time with us, and yet it never fails that when we leave the office I am amazed at how quickly the time passed.  Were we really there that long?, my husband and I often question as we rush to the car before the parking attendant can ticket us.  I feel so fortunate that our pediatrician is able to spend this time with us, answering any questions we have but also just listening to us discuss our children and all the little, funny things we think they do.  If these extended appointments feel short to me, how do my patients feel?

With restraints on my time as a pediatrician, I have adapted to stay on schedule by keeping the small talk about myself to a minimum.  My patients’ families often express interest in my own family, asking politely about my kids during their visit.  If I spend even a few minutes answering these questions, those are precious minutes I have taken from their children.  So unless I have a story that I think can provide a sympathetic perspective (i.e. my baby had reflux too!), I tend to keep my answers respectfully brief.  This visit is about their child and I want to dedicate every precious minute to them.  If they are anything like me, they have been eagerly anticipating this visit for months and I want to give them all of my attention for as long as I can, just as our pediatrician does.

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