As the mother of a “disabled” child, I have had to learn the fine skill of deciding when to be a pain and when not to. This skill is sometimes the difference between getting my child what they need, when they need it or having to wait until someone else decides our fate. Although I have tailored this post to dealing with doctors offices, the skills really will work in just about any situation where you need some help.
My son has a FABULOUS team of doctors that work with us. I call them “The Ologists” (as in Neurologist, Audiologist, Psychologist, etc…..). After 5 years, they all know us pretty well. There are a few things that I do, out of respect, so that we get treated with respect as well.
- I only say my child needs an immediate appointment if it is really urgent. Because this is so rare, thank goodness, all of the doctors offices know if I am calling for an urgent appointment, something serious is going on and it really is urgent. I don’t “cry wolf” and wear out the staff with constant calls and concerns.
- If I am calling the doctors office for an appointment because my child is in pain, or must be seen right away, and they say “Can you be here at 2 pm?” The answer is YES! It is difficult for the office staff to take your request that your child must be seen “right away” seriously if you tell them “No, we can’t make that time. Do you have anything else available?” Obviously if you are hemming and hawing about appointment times that fit around YOUR schedule, it’s not that much of an emergency.
- If I call with an urgent need for care and they tell me that there is nothing available then I ask for the office manager. Then I calmly and politely explain the whole situation, including why it is urgent and that we will take any appointment available, and ask if there is anything she can do. I have never been turned down because I do it very respectfully and politely.
- I hardly ever, almost never, cancel appointments. Period. In 22 years of parenting and four children, I have cancelled ONE appointment (and it was a dental appointment that I rescheduled). Even then, I gave two days notice.
- Do I need to point out that you should NEVER miss an appointment? When you miss appointments, it does not help your reputation with the doctors office staff.
- I always arrive a little early so that we don’t keep the doctor waiting . Sometimes we even get seen ahead of time.
- If something happens and I owe more money to the doctors office than I thought I would, I explain the situation (truthfully) and ask for an envelope with their address on it so I can mail a payment to them on xyz date. Oh, and the key is to actually mail the payment when you say you will.
- If you cannot mail the whole payment, mail something. Then keep mailing them a little every week (or every other week) so that your account stays in good standing.
- Follow the doctors advice. It does no good to go to the doctor and not do what they have told you to do (take medication, go see a specialist, schedule a follow up, get labwork done, etc)
- If a medication is too expensive, ask your doctor if there is a generic or an alternative. Most times there is another prescription that will work just as well as the expensive one.
- I always make sure at the beginning of the phone call to a doctors office that I get the name of the person I am talking to. Then, at the end of the call, I say “Thank you SO much ! I appreciate all of your help (fill in name here)!” Also, I say the same thing to all of the staff we see when we are at the office.
The office staff at doctors offices need to be appreciated for the job they do. They have enough patients that holler at them all day, every day. Try to be one of the nice ones! It pays off in the end!