Parents are people too
With so much of healthcare now automated, and so many demands on each practitioner’s time, it’s dangerously easy to lose sight of patients as individuals. Yet often it’s the personal details that can make the difference between a successful outcome and a less successful one.
Knowing a little girl’s preference for twirly skirts, a practitioner can screen for brace components that might be prone to snags. Knowing a little boy’s favorite cartoon character can make possible the creative customization of orthotic devices he is more likely to wear.
For clinicians who treat pediatric patients, it’s also dangerously easy to stop thinking of patients’ parents as individuals. When your focus is on the child—as it should be—it’s understandable to think of his or her parents primarily as a means to an end, specifically a positive clinical outcome. And certainly there are effective strategies for managing parent behaviors in ways that will benefit the child in question (see “Parents: How to make them your clinical allies,” page 9).
But here’s another suggestion. Just as parents would prefer their children not view them as glorified cooks, cleaners, or cash machines, I suspect many parents also would prefer that their children’s practitioners see them as more than a means to an end. Try taking just a few moments out of each visit to talk to the parents about an aspect of their lives that isn’t clinical. It might make them a lot more collaborative.
Just as treating patients as people can motivate them to help themselves, treating parents as individuals with unique challenges can motivate them to help you help their children.
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