by Steve Riggs, BS, RRT-NPS
The very best way to work with your doctor is to educate yourself so that you can ask informed questions. Doctors are usually more at ease answering a question if they feel like the person asking the question has already done some of their homework. This way it is more of a discussion, and your doctor won’t feel like they have so much to explain that their answers will be overwhelming. Also if you know what you want to ask you can phrase your question in an “I need your help with this” format. (Dr. Smith, I was reading up on hot compresses and I would like your thoughts about why they are so effective.) Doctors by nature are educators, although they may have lost some of that in the world of health “business.”
If you have a good article on something related to your child’s condition, make them a copy of it. They may not get around to reading it, but they will appreciate your dedication and good will.
Medical doctors’ time is really at a premium in today’s rapid paced society. The week or night before your appointment make a list of things you want to ask and take it with you. Tell them you have some questions written down that you would like to discuss with them.
You are in charge of your child’s care. The doctor is your resource person. If there is something that you are not comfortable with, let them know. For example, they may want to order a vaccination or medication that you are uncomfortable with. It is fine to let them know you are uncomfortable with it at that time. Give them your reasons, and make sure you have done some homework. Don’t dismiss their thoughts and education, but introduce yours. You might say, “I really am not comfortable with that right now; why don’t we wait until our next appointment and reconsider?” If you find your doctor is not willing to work with you, then it is time to find another doctor.
If you are shopping around for a doctor, on your first visit let them know how you feel about certain treatments or medications and any other concerns you have. Ask them if they will be willing to work with you on your child’s care. You are the consumer; if you are not satisfied with the answers to your questions or feel that you can’t build a rapport with a particular doctor, keep shopping.
If you are working with medication and prescriptions, your pharmacist may be a good partner. Ask for counseling even before you fill a prescription, and if there are issues the pharmacist will often call your doctor on your behalf for clarifications, thoughts, or concerns.