A Guide for Doctor Do’s and Dont’s When Dealing with Parents

Dear Doctor

I know your smart, it’s why I bring my child to you. However there are somethings they do not teach you in medical school that I think are important for you to learn.

Don’t tell a parent that what their child won’t do.
Do tell them that you are not a fortune teller.

Don’t tell call a parent “mom” or “dad”. They are not your parent, they have names. We learned your name, learn ours.
Do call the NICU parent “mom” and “dad” if you think they need the reminder, the connection. But only for that reason.

Don’t tell them that you want to do a procedure “this” way because the “other” way feels like assault. Especially after the parent just held their own child down for 45 minutes for “this” procedure.
Do acknowledge that you are sorry they had to hold down their own child, but it was because there was no other option.

Don’t assume you know more about their child’s diagnosis than your medical degree does.
Do ask them their opinion, their experience and welcome their input.

Don’t be late for their child’s appointment.
Do respect their time.

Don’t tell them you were ‘too busy’ to return their call.
Do apologize it took so long to respond.

Don’t think just because you told us once, we are going to remember everything you said.
Do follow-up with an e-mail and then have a nurse or someone in your office follow-up the next week and ask if there are any other questions.

Don’t think parents disrespect you when we question.
Do understand we see you as our partner in our quest to help our child.

Don’t tell them what their child cannot do.
Do keep their expectations in check, with kindness.

We thank you for all the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who help treat our children. We just think there are things that are not taught in medical school.




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