8 Things A Pediatrician Wants You To Know

What does your pediatrician really think of you?

For over a decade, I’ve been the one sitting on that spinny stool, talking to parents about every pediatric issue under the sun. And between the advice, reassurance, and tough questions, I came up with a few things I wish all my patients’ parents could know.

1.) I realize you’ve had a long wait, and I feel bad about it.

bored boy waiting

Right off the bat, I want to apologize. My office is busy today… Everything from a brand-newborn with antsy parents to a depressed teenager with lupus who (oops!) may or may not be pregnant. My schedulers, triage staff, and nurses have been trying to keep everything on track, but something inevitably takes longer than expected. Take heart in knowing that someday, if you need some extra time, you’ll get it too.

2.) I see the (crappy) snacks in your purse, but I am not judging your parenting.

Believe me, I know parenting is complicated. I’ve witnessed a wide range of parenting proficiency behind these doors, and I’m pretty forgiving. There are an infinite number of ways to be a thoughtful and compassionate parent, and as long as you’re trying to be that, I’m good. After all, I know what you’re up against. I’ve been there myself.

There are an infinite number of ways to be a thoughtful and compassionate parent. Trying to be that? I’m good.  Dr. McGee #pediatrician

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3.) That being said, please tell your child to stop licking the floor.

The patient in this room fifteen minutes ago had a germ you do not want. Trust me, the hand sanitizer is not here by accident. Just don’t let your kid lick that, too.

pediatric care pediatrician

4.) I believe you.

You didn’t have to stop wiping your kid’s nose, avoid cleaning his eye goo, or keep him wrapped in a bloody shirt just so I can “see how bad it is.” If you tell me his temperature was 102.3 an hour ago, but then you gave him ibuprofen, I’m not going to think you’re lying.

5.) With that it mind, it is helpful if you tell the truth.

Not just because your words steer my medical decision making. (You never let your child have sugary drinks? Ever?)

Tell the truth to your pediatrician because your kid is listening, and he knows when Mommy is lying. To the doctor! Remember that part about me not questioning your parenting? I have my limits.

6.) A virus is a germ.

Me: “This looks like a viral infection.”

Misinformed Parent: “So, you’re trying to tell me there’s nothing wrong?”

Please, Thoughtful and Compassionate Parents, spread the word. A viral infection is still an infection. It does not mean there are no problems, or that your child’s symptoms are trivial.

I love annihilating bacteria as much as the next guy, but I don’t prescribe antibiotics when they’re not going to do anything. The great news about most common viruses is that your child’s immune system can take them down, without any help from me.

7.) I really believe in the recommended vaccines. And I don’t profit from them.

Unless you consider the well-being we get from seeing fewer severe illnesses and fewer dying babies, pediatricians do not get paid for pushing vaccines. In fact, vaccines are expensive to stock, store, and administer, so offering them sometimes results in a cash loss for pediatric practices.

Speaking of vaccines, did you know there are lots of vaccines that we don’t give your children? Only vaccines that are exceptionally safe and exceptionally necessary get recommended by pediatricians. Which means, unless you’ve dedicated your career to researching this area (in which case I bet you already got your kid vaccinated), it seems silly not to trust the scores of scientists who have.

Please consider it a compliment if I forget your name. Your children have been blessed with good health. -Dr. McGee #pediatrician

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8.) Please consider it a compliment if I forget your name.

Really, it’s a good thing. Not only have your children been blessed with good health, you are doing everything right. I don’t need to worry about you. You listen to my advice. Your kids get better. Thoughtful, compassionate parents? Yes, you are.

And I wish I could hang out and chat. But I’ve got somebody waiting.
Consider it a compliment if I forget your name
Dr. Kerry McGee

In addition to being a pediatrician, Dr. Kerry McGee is a freelance writer, a member of the American Medical Writers Association, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In the fiction domain, Kerry has published several stories in Highlights for Children Magazine, two of which won the coveted annual Highlights Fiction Award. Most recently, she's written research summary points for a clinician audience on Elsevier’s Practice Update.

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