Is The Pediatrician Approachable?
Why does "affability" matter in a doctor?
There are several ways the doctor and staff can demonstrate their interest and concern. One is the office setting itself. Although it need not be luxurious, it should at least be pleasant and comfortable, particularly the waiting area. There should be interesting, up-to-date reading material for readers of all ages, as well as toys and games for younger children. The most important components of affability, however, are the interpersonal skills of the doctor and staff, and the feeling that you are not being processed on an assembly line.
The interpersonal skills should include friendliness and the demonstration of a genuine affection for children. Also, the physician should use language the child understands. Often a child can help in arriving at a diagnosis. For example, if a nine-year-old has recurrent tummy aches, the doctor may ask the parent if there is any constipation -- a common cause of abdominal pain. But the parent may have no idea of the child's bowel habits, and the child may not understand what "constipation" means. If the doctor asks the child, "Does your tush hurt when you poo?" and the answer is yes, the problem may be solved.
This easy communication should exist at all stages of the system. When you telephone for information or an appointment, you should be made to feel that your request is as important to the doctor and staff as it is to you. When you are seeing the doctor with your child, you should be made to feel that you can discuss anything you wish and that the doctor won't consider it frivolous. When a test is being ordered, you should feel free to ask why it's being done and how the results of the test will affect your child's treatment. You should never leave the office with questions you would have liked to ask. In fact, the affable doctor will usually ask if you have any unanswered questions, or anything else you would like to discuss, before you leave.
The best physicians combine ability with availability and affability. Although these are also the doctors with fairly large practices, they usually have excellent time-management skills, and the people in their care don't feel rushed.