My Doctor’s Appointment Wish List

23 Apr

Hello, my name is Jessica and I go to a lot of doctor’s appointments.

Everyone now: Hiiiiii Jessica.

I’m a mom to a cancer survivor and a micro preemie, so no surprise, right?

I’m a positive realist. (I just totally made that term up.) I call things like I see them, but I also prefer to put my focus on what’s going well. In this blog, I tend to write about the details of the appointments, but I glaze over the fact that it REALLY sucks to spend so much time doctor hopping. I can tell you a whole lot of other ways I’d rather use my time off from work. You know, maybe like going on a vacation or just taking a real day off.

Abby, picture here at her two-year-old checkup, tends to enjoy any appointment with mirrors.

Abby, pictured here at her two-year-old checkup in 2013, tends to enjoy any appointment including mirror time.

Some weeks, we only have one appointment. Totally manageable. On busy weeks, we have four or five. Throw in work and school and that’s a lot of shuttling. Often one appointment could be in Newport News and the next in Norfolk. Then Chesapeake. And back to Hampton the next morning. It’s hard on my energy level and sanity. We also tend to eat more fast food those weeks which makes me feel like an overall useless human being.

Basically, I know doctor’s offices. I forgive a lot of healthcare idiosyncrasies if I love the practice, doctor or nurses. But the thought came to me the other day…should I? Wouldn’t it be better if they just fixed it?

Plus, what does it teach my kids about themselves when Mommy’s time and opinion doesn’t matter as much as the doctor’s time and opinion?

These 10 points came to me so quick it was almost scary. Here’s my doctor’s office wish list:

  1. Hire enough people in your office. A successful office has enough personnel to cover the phones AND enough doctors to cover the patient appointments.
  2. Keep to a 30 minutes or less wait time. This is gracious, by the way. Do you know how many things I can catch in your watching room? Do you know how destructive my kids get when they’ve spent over an hour in the same 200 square feet? Less wait time, less complaints!
  3. Please look at the chart before you see me. By no means should you ever restate my medical history to me as you’re reading it for the first time. Yep, got it, I was there when that happened. If I can’t walk into a meeting without knowing who I’m meeting with at my job, you shouldn’t either.
  4. Please have appointments available within a one week for non-urgent medical issues, and less than 2 days for urgent appointments. If you’ve ever been worried about something with your health…calling and hearing there’s a four month waiting period is depressing. It creates panic.
  5. Let me know everything up front. Do I need to fill out papers? Do I need to wear pants vs a skirt? Do I need to not eat? Do I need to bring certain records? Should I have held that pee? It’s hard enough to get an appointment, but when we arrive, unprepared, the process drags out longer. Sometimes it even requires an additional appointment.
  6. Please have a waiting room that is appropriate for your patients. TVs or appropriate magazines or a small playroom. And for the love of God, get enough chairs for everyone that is waiting. I’ve had to wait in the hallway OUTSIDE of a doctor’s office before, holding my baby with my stroller and diaper bag, because all the seats were taken in the waiting room. And I wasn’t the only person waiting with their child in the hall.
  7. Free parking FOR ALL. When I have to pay for gas, the appointment AND PARKING…it just feels…like I need an ice cream cone.
  8. Hire friendly people. Please. Pretty please? Hire front people who smile, answer the phone politely, have a good reserve of patience and know how to work a computer.
  9. Don’t push an outdated hierarchy. Doctors and nurses and staff members should all work together as a team for their patients. I love seeing inviting healthcare environments. I notice it. And even more importantly, I notice when it’s absent.
  10. Don’t rush us. We’ve driven, waited, paid and waited some more. Patients are not a number or your 2:15 appointment.

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