Let me make something clear right off the bat (that’s never a good sign), my mother is an RN (Registered Nurse) who entered that specific career in that specific field (including Hospice) after my father lost his life to cancer. She understood that the nurses and doctors who were caring for him, down to his final breath, had seen many patients, as well as dealt with all of their families, and experienced tragedy on a daily basis. But for my mom this was her husband, not just some other person who was sick, so this motivated her to want to help others by making sure that she was a healthcare professional who was able to empathize with those who were going through the same type of tragedies.
I make this point for two reasons. First, that is the type of person who needs to be entering the healthcare field. If you don’t understand the brevity of the situations then perhaps you need to find a different way to earn a paycheck. Secondly, it proves to me that it’s possible to see tragedy after tragedy, and people with legitimate fears and concerns, yet still be able to empathize.
So when it comes to pediatrics, why is it we parents feel like we’re inconveniencing our pediatrician’s office with our sick children when we simply make a call to ask a few question (and yes, we checked your website’s FAQ first)? And it isn’t solely just when we have sick children that pediatric offices can suck, so let’s
Dear Pediatrician Office,
To the staff of most pediatrician offices out there, do I know that parents are a headache to deal with, especially when you’re dealing with them in massive numbers on a daily basis? Sure!
I’m sure they try to get their other children looked at (who don’t have an appointment), they talk on their phone when they shouldn’t, don’t turn the ringer off, they act like they know medicine more than you, etc. However, you need to excuse some of us for not having smiles on our faces the entire time we’re in your office because we’re dealing with lack of sleep from a sick child, or work harassing us for leaving early to bring our kid to the doctor, or for just being human, like you, who is also lacking a smile because you’re frustrated with all the previous parents and children who have been in the office all day.
“Naughty or Nice”?
That brings me to my first main point, according to Parents.com and their interviews with those employed at pediatrician offices, the office staff is stressed and tired of crying babies and children and keep record of whether we, as parents, are “naughty or nice” and they choose to assist us according to their status of us.
Oh, sorry office staff and nurses for filling your waiting room with tiny humans that are still in emotional development, who, even on their good days, can be a royal pain in the ass, let alone when they’re sick and feeling miserable.
Want to fix this for both you and the parents? Then the pediatrics industry needs to come up with a universal paging system that works so that we can wait with our kids in the car, or sit outside on a nice day, preventing the spread of germs to non-sick kids as well as helping us to not have to put up with others’ kids emotional-misery that you yourselves are apparently stressed over.
Furthermore, even though the Parents.com site states otherwise, a good office should always try to, “squeeze you in when you phone in a pinch before your big beach vacay,” not just when we’re, “nice.”
Doesn’t Take a Germaphobe
Speaking of spreading germs within the waiting area. That’s a great segue to my second point. Also brought up in the Parents.com article is the thought of bringing our own toys. This should be a universal given. Pediatrics, PLEASE STOP providing that one bead maze or magazine rack. Kids are immediately drawn to toys, especially when it’s not theirs.
So really what we’re working with here is a germ station. You put how many sick kids in the same room everyday, attract them to this one piece of equipment like flies to shit, and everyone there thinks this is a smart idea? I’m not even a germaphobe but if I had my way we’d all have our own waiting stalls where we’re separated from each other like a bathroom.
Instead we get all the kids, both sick and healthy, to mingle together in one central place and if a parent attempts to do the smart thing and say, “no, don’t play with that,” then we open up that can of worms for a child to get upset, feel left out, or throw a tantrum. Really? So then what, I get the “naughty” status level like mentioned above?
The argument will be made, “But if we don’t provide toys the kids will be restless and misbehave.” To that I say, first, it’s not your job to make my kids behave, it’s mine. Second, inform all new patient/parents that they will need to bring their own toys and why it’s better for the kids. And third, if a parent isn’t doing their job then you need to call that parent over, explain to them that this is an office, and that they need to get their child to behave and learn to respect society rules of how to act in public.
I was filming a video, on my phone, of my daughter’s first ever vaccinations (don’t lecture me if you disagree with vaccinations because this is not the place). I was recording just for the sake of capturing one of my child’s ‘firsts’, however, I was told I couldn’t record it because of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) prevented me from legally being allowed to.
Are you kidding me? Let’s first address the fact that I understand that part of HIPAA is to, “protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information,” but let’s make one thing crystal clear…I am the legal guardian of this baby who cannot make choices for themselves, and until they’re 18 or legally under someone else’s guardianship, I will do anything I think is either in the best interest of that child or is my God given right.
On top of that, we should all be able to record any and all medical practices that we, or our children, have to endure due to the ever growing amount of misinformation, malpractices, inept staffers in all industries, and plain old jaded laziness that has seemed to sweep our healthcare industries.
Get it?! Good.
Same but Different
If I was to say to you, Mr./Ms. pediatrician office staffer, that every pediatrician and their offices are the exact same, would you appreciate that very much? I didn’t think so.
So stop acting like every child and their sickness is the same. If I call, asking if we should come in because my son’s cough sounds abnormally wet and deep in his chest, don’t just tell me that a cough is normal. Or, when I call telling you that my son’s temperature is 100.3F, don’t just tell me that’s not a fever, and that a real fever is 100.4F or higher (yes, this happened). We’re really getting into semantics over a difference of a fraction of a degree when their showing signs of an elevating temperature?
How about you lend your concern and knowledge and tell us things we can do to make our child’s life better, like: make sure we’re using a cool mist machine in their bedroom, ask if they are drinking plenty of fluids, suggest a specified cold medicine to be used over a specified amount of time, and that if we’ve already done all of those things and we’re still not seeing improvement then yes, come in ASAP.
Please don’t pooh-pooh the situation because this is the 150th call, exactly like this, that you’ve received today. Remember, this is the first call, exactly like this, that we’ve made today and this is maybe our first, or second, child and we’re not as proficient in this situation so we’re looking at you, the professional, to assist.
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Speaking of second child, just because we’ve been through this once before with our first child, please assume we don’t remember anything from our first child because if we parents don’t black out things from that first experience (and the emotions that went along with it) then there’s a good chance we would die off as a species because it takes momentary lapses of our memories to convince ourselves that we should have more kids.
Sum of Its Parts
In Closing, for those of us parents who are trying to make the experience as easy as possible on you, the pediatrician staff, we don’t all need to be punished with your perceived inability to empathize with our current situation or to be lumped in with those on your shit list.
And if you do have a shit list, throw it away. Give people second, third, and even fourth chances. We’re all just trying to survive this time in our life and we could use a break. If we can’t catch a break from our children’s caretakers, then who?