In today’s fast-paced world, it’s important to keep in mind: Absolutely no one likes to wait. We are used to getting what we want quickly. We can get on our smart phones at any minute and access just about anything we need instantly.
As a mother and a pediatric dentist, I know I am on both ends of the waiting game. I have patients waiting on me, just as I wait on doctors with my children.
After many years in my profession, I am now very understanding when I am waiting for my children’s pediatrician. I have an appreciation for the reasons why we might be waiting. We are waiting because children are unpredictable. Sometimes, as doctors, we plan a procedure and block off 30 minutes in the schedule, but we can end up using those 30 minutes just to talk to the child and encourage them to get into the dental chair. As a parent of a nervous child, I am confident that the doctor and staff will give her the time to walk her through the procedure and make her feel as comfortable as possible. I also know that children are dynamic and growing and their needs are constantly changing and evolving. As much as we try to anticipate the proper time to allow for an exam, we want to be thorough, and a routine exam can often become a complex exam.
Any time you are working with children, you actually have two patients. You have a child who needs your attention and a parent who needs your time. Making sure both the parent and the child are properly informed and comfortable can take extra time. I also know that children play hard and can get hurt at any time. We cannot anticipate when a parent is going to call our office and need to be seen, but we do know that we are going to get them into our schedule. As a mother, I know when my child is sick, I can call their pediatrician, and she will see them that day. When I wait for her, I know other kids may have had emergencies no one was planning on, and I am happy those children are being seen and cared for.
When I think of my priorities and what is important to me, the health of my children is at the top of the list. Therefore, when I wait for a doctor’s appointment, I know it is more important to wait than to worry about being late for soccer practice. I also want my children to feel like their health is important, and taking time out of our crazy schedule to see a doctor is always worth the wait.
As I wait, I remember that good communication, empathy and kindness takes time. As a health care provider, I want my schedule to be running on time, and I don’t like people waiting on me; however, I know there are many reasons behind the wait.
Dr. Nicole Stoker is a pediatric dentist for The Smile Shop and is a mother of two.