Doctor appointments... and more doctor appointments…. all different kinds of doctors…. all different kinds of specialties. Any parent of a chronically ill child has a busy calendar filled and starred with seemingly never-ending appointment dates and times.
And for each and every appointment, I do have one important goal: To ensure that each doctor fully understands my son’s conditions -- what is causing the most problems, what we have done in the past, what we are currently doing, what has been effective and what has not.
After spending many waking hours going to numerous appointments with my son, the analytical and business sides of me emerged, asking questions:
How do I make the best use of the time we meet with the doctor?
How do I ensure the doctor has enough quality time to really focus on coming up with a good solid plan?
How do I make sure he will work with the other doctors my son is seeing?
Early on, I realized that in order to have an effective and productive appointment, it helps to be organized and prepared. Although the doctor may have everything in their online or physical notes, they don’t necessarily have a lot of time to review everything during the appointment.
I thought to myself: What can I do to facilitate the appointment, so the doctor doesn’t have to spend too much time playing “catch up” on my son’s medical case.
In answering that question, I found that if I could provide a summary of my child’s medical history, I’d save the doctor a lot of precious time and help to make his or her life easier.
So, after putting my business hat on, I came up with a format that I use for every appointment. My son has aptly named the form his medical resume -- a tool that summarizes his background and past experience.
For anyone using this approach, the resume consolidates the history of where your child has been and where they are today. It is something you bring to the doctor’s appointment and hand directly to the doctor or nurse before the appointment starts.
The medical resume is like a job resume in that you prepare it ahead of time and also tailor it based on the specific type of doctor you are seeing, just like you would tailor your business resume based on the particular job you’re applying for.”
Preparing a medical resume also makes me feel a sense of control over the appointment, since it also focuses the doctor’s attention on what we feel are the key points. It is a great tool for me and well worth putting the time into. Often, I will even mull it over a few days to make sure I didn’t leave anything out.
In case this approach could help you and your child, here is what you may consider for your medical resume:
Your child’s name and current date at the top
Section I - Diagnoses / conditions with original diagnosis date
Section II - Current symptoms / problems that pertain to particular doctor’s appt
Section IV - List of what has and hasn’t helped / worked
Section V - Current list of meds and dosage
Section VI - Names of doctors you are working with, listing the specialty
Section VII - Top questions you may have (list no more than 5 - you may have a longer list with you that’s not on the resume)
Attach any lab results and procedure info that the doctor would be interested in
I find that bullet points under each section are the most effective. Remember, less is more. I develop mine on the computer, so it's easy to read and edit. You might find it's better for you to go "old school" with pen and paper. I try to stick to one page for the medical resume, if possible, attaching any labs or test results.
Bring a copy for both you and the doctor... and use it as a guide in your discussion. I’ve always had a positive response from doctors when I present them the consolidated information in this format.
Also, I often write all of my notes from the appointment right on the back of the medical resume, so I have everything documented in one place.
I modify and tweak the medical resume for every doctor appointment just like I would modify my resume depending on the job. It is a great discussion tool for you and the doctor. Since your questions are already listed, you ensure that you don’t leave without having your questions answered.
In addition, I always bring a binder with a more detailed history, just in case. (More on that in other posts where I will discuss doctor appointment “tips for success” and how I put together a “medical history binder.”)
It's critical that you are prepared for each appointment, so you can get the most out of it for both you and your child. Hopefully, my medical resume approach will guide you to develop what will work best for you… all toward feeling more prepared and confident at your next appointment.
In the meantime, keep brewing more hope!
I am not a doctor or therapist. I am not dispensing advice, but simply giving food for thought, discussing my personal experience in relation to parenting a child with chronic illness and the impact it has had on my family. I am not recommending any particular way of parenting; just sharing my experiences. Please consult your physician or personal therapist for issues you are concerned about.