Communicating with Your Pediatrician

As concerned parents, you have many important questions about your child’s developmental milestones and other issues that may arise. That is why selecting a pediatrician who is the right fit for you and your family is critical. Most importantly, you want your child to be comfortable during doctor’s visits. You also want to feel comfortable with your pediatrician during those visits and during those inevitable after-hours phone calls.

In order to ensure that each interaction with your child’s pediatrician is productive and meets your expectations, please review the following practical tips to help guide you during a routine Well Check or a sick visit. We want you to feel at each talking to both the pediatrician and the medical staff who treat your child.

Be organized

  1. Keep a record of your child’s symptoms, including fever, how long your child has been sick and any medicines given (dose and time given)
  2. Highlight any items that are particularly worrisome
  3. Write down questions you want to ask
  4. Think about any concerns you have about your child’s development, eating or sleeping habits, social skills or behavior

Identify goals for each visit

  1. Well Checks are a good time to voice concerns about your child’s development or other age-appropriate milestones or behaviors
  2. At a sick visit, provide as much information as possible related to the symptoms you have noted or the course of the illness. Ask questions if you do not understand your pediatrician’s explanation or tests ordered. It is especially important to understand dose and frequency of which medications to give your child

What to bring to the visit

  1. Current medication list; include prescription, over-the-counter, herbal supplements, vitamins or other alternative therapies. Request refills, if needed
  2. State allergies and previous adverse reactions, including allergies to certain medications
  3. Prior medications and why they didn’t work
  4. Recent test results, including any done at an urgent care facility, an emergency room or retail clinic such as Minute Clinic. Include dates and locations. Always ask for copies of your test results so you can have them for your own files.
  5. Changes in symptoms since your last visit
  6. Questions specific to that day, that visit

Making the most out of your visit

  1.  Arrive on time
  2. Bring a toy, book or comfort article to entertain your child so you can talk to the pediatrician
  3. Be clear and descriptive when explaining your child’s symptoms or asking questions
  4. Describe any changes in your child’s behavior
  5. Make sure your questions are answered and you feel comfortable with information received
  6. Please do not use your mobile phone in the pediatrician’s office or exam room. This is distracting to everyone involved, and you want to be certain you have understood all questions, instructions and next steps

Talking about pain

  1. Whether your child can verbalize pain or not, you are the best judge of how uncomfortable your child may be
  2. Don’t hesitate to tell the pediatrician about your child’s discomfort or, have your child speak for himself

Speak Up

  1. You are your child’s best advocate
  2. You have the right to understand the diagnosis, medications, tests and the risks and options of each

Before you leave

  1. Ask the pediatrician for written instructions
  2. Summarize the visit and clarify your questions  Don’t leave without fully understanding your diagnosis and treatment


  1. Most pediatricians offer a nurse advice line with a registered nurse available to answer questions or a physician on-call, after -hours’ service.
  2. Regardless of who you speak with after-hours, be clear and descriptive when communicating your child’s condition or symptoms
  3. Have your drug store pharmacy number available in case a prescription needs to be ordered
This information is provided merely as a guideline and does not include all possible situations in which you might interact with your pediatrician.