The Fantasy Pediatrician’s Office

This weekend, I took M. for his once-a-year “well” visit with our pediatrician. Please understand– I love our pediatrician. But as I sat in the office listening to crying and coughing children, and tried to stop M. from rolling on the floor, I had an idea.

It’s time for The World of Children’s Medicine to evolve a tad.

Dealing with a sick child is horrendous. After a rough night consumed by your kid’s fever or post-nasal drip, you start the day covered in snot, baby gook, and other unidentified bodily fluids. You call “the phone nurse.” At this point, depending on your child’s ailments, you can practically sing along with her: “Yesssss, I’ve tried steeeeammmmm, and elevating the pillllloooowwwww, and plenty of fluuuuuiddddssss.” You beg her to call in a prescription but get the standard response (sing along): “You have to bring him innnnnn.”

Ugh. Showering is out of the question, so you gather your usual crap, including handfuls of tissues, an illegal snack (food is banned from our pediatrician’s office), diapers, wipes, whatever, hopefully remembering to bring your wallet and insurance card. Sick Kid, wearing his pajamas and lying on the couch like a lump, understandably doesn’t want to move. You drag him to the car and strap him in. If you’re lucky, you get to bring some siblings along too.  As you start off for the office, Sick Kid may or may not puke. Hopefully he falls asleep.

You arrive at the doctor’s office and take a seat on the “sick side”, steering “yours” away from “theirs,” who blow snot bubbles from their noses and put the trains from the “sick side” train table into their mouths. Kids are gross. Sick kids are even grosser.  The lucky parents on the “well side” give you dirty looks and shield their healthy children from your infected kids.

You wait . . .

And wait . . .

And wait.

The nurse calls your name and directs you to an 8×8 examination room, where you wait . . .

And wait . . .

And wait some more.

Fun adventures happen along the way. The exam room is full of attractive nuisances such as cotton balls and popsicle sticks. If the kid(s) make it into the drawers they can find syringes and paper gowns too. You glance at the reflection staring back from the metal tissue dispenser attached to the wall, and jump from fright at the sight of yourself. Is that crunchy stuff in your hair cherry-flavored Children’s Tylenol? Yuck!

You beg the kids to be quiet, fibbing that it will only be a few more minutes as they circle the tiny room like caged lions (except for Sick Kid who’s freezing in his underwear waiting for the doctor).  You advise the pride not to touch anything, to give you back that People Magazine from 2004 (J.Lo and Ben break up news!), and to please be patient.

Finally, the doctor comes in, confirms what you most likely already know, and gives you a script.  It’s off to check out . . . where you wait again.

Next up? The pharmacy. Which got me to thinking . . .

I am a huge fan of the drive-thru pharmacy.  It alleviates the need to remove kids from car seats and discourages me from buying unnecessary pharmacy junk. Since we now have drive-thru pharmacies, how about a drive-thru pediatrician? Bear with me while I share with you this fantasy world I’ve created.

I want the pediatrician’s office to run like a combination of McDonald’s and the inspection line at the DMV. Imagine this . . .

You load the kids in the car (Sick Kid included). You drive to the pediatrician’s address and you stop at the first window (the McDonald’s equivalent being the ordering screen).

Speaker Nurse: Can I help you?

You: I spoke to the phone nurse? She said to bring my son in?

You give your information to the Speaker Nurse.

Speaker Nurse: Okay. Please drive to Lane 3.

There are probably cars ahead of you.  You are still waiting (like the Universe desires for us when we need health care), but now you are waiting in the luxury of your private, family-germs-only vehicle. Your traveling coffee cup is in the cup holder, the kids are still sleeping or watching a DVD, or screaming, or puking, or picking their noses. It doesn’t matter, because you are insulated.  You aren’t exposed to other families’ germs, and aren’t forced to listen to tired moms recount every ear infection suffered by “theirs” since 2007. Nor are you seen in your disgusting-looking state. Interested? I continue . . .

Back to Lane 3. You’re next. You drive up to an exam room. An “intern” approaches your car and either stays with siblings (alleviating the need for you to unload them), or helps you remove Sick Kid, and you go directly into the exam room where (ready?) the doctor is waiting for you (it’s a fantasy, remember?). You get Sick Kid examined and step back into your car. Onto the next window– check out.

Again, you settle into your vehicle while you wait your turn for the check out window (McDonald’s equivalent of the pick-up window).

[Note that in the über-fantasy version of this scenario, there is an additional station after check out. You guessed it! The pharmacy window where you pick up Sick Kid’s script.  That’s just way too wonderful to even imagine though.]

What do you think?  I think this design benefits everyone. No more “sick side” vs. “well side.” No more exposure to gross, germy toys and gross, germy kids. No more embarrassment over your sweats and crunchy hair. No more waiting with coats piled up and uncomfortable kids and stuff that needs to be dragged in and out of room after room. This plan turns your vehicle into the waiting room. Ingenious, right? Here’s a sketch I made.

Fantasy Pediatrician's Office

Fantasy Pediatrician’s Office

That first rectangle as you turn off the road is the check in window.  Next, you head to your lane and the second rectangles- the exam rooms.  Then you stop at the third rectangle- the check out.  And off you go!  I think this can work.  We can make it happen!

Thanks for reading and have a nice night.🙂

20 Comments

  1. I’m not a pediatrician, but I can relate trying to run a ‘doctor’s office’. It’s never easy to try and juggle patients and keep them from having to wait. Yes, doctor’s are people too and believe me, I try to not keep my patients waiting. It’s a major problem. You hate to just run in and write a script and send people on their way. I like to spend some ‘quality’ time with my patients, but then too much time spent gets me behind a full schedule. It’s a tough juggling act. I’m a physician and I had to wait one time about 3 hours in a dermatology office. If life could only just have 3 lanes!

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    • Hi Al! I understand about the waiting, and one of the things I love about my ped. is that she spends time with us when we need it. But I feel like they overbook and I am not sure why they don’t just space appts out better to begin with. I don’t mean to offend doctors and I can’t imagine having to deal with juggling patients. With routine sick kid stuff though, I personally would appreciate more paraprofessionals, nurse practitioners, anything to cut the wait. Both my kids were chronic ear infection kids. We ended up doing tubes, tonsils, adenoids, but before that it was numerous visits to doc essentially to confirm ear infections. Then you have to go back for the follow up. It’s a lot of office wait time.

      I would love to go back to the days of Doc Baker on Little House on the Prairie and the house call.

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  2. Lol, I love this.
    Why?
    Because I HATE other kids germs around me or mine!
    Thankfully his Dr. office isn’t bad they have a few doctors in and we haven’t had to wait more than 15 minutes after our scheduled appointment more than once.
    We went yesterday though and I know a lady in front of us was livid bc we got there 15 minutes after her, they checked my child’s temp and brought him back right away to give even more medicine than I gave him just 20 minutes prior and a Popsicle, of course they wanted to get his situation under control quickly.
    I did feel bad for her in a sense that she’d been waiting longer but I would hope she’d understand. However on a day that something like that doesn’t happen or you don’t know it happened it totally sucks when your waiting!

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  3. The only thing that could make it better is if the car pulls into a garage (I’m thinking about one like the Jiffy Lube) and the doctor just comes right to the car door with the ottoscope and looks in my kid’s ears while she’s still strapped in the car seat. And some how he can figure out how much she weighs just by measuring the circumference of her wrist, types the prescription into his i-pad and then the next window is where they hand me the drugs. Ha! It is a fantasy, after all. You are a genius, Jess!

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  4. Without embellishment, you’ve captured the pediatrician experience perfectly. You know what I can’t understand? Why are there toys in a doctor’s office? Aren’t the sick kids with colds and flues going to play with these toys? Aren’t the kids who do not have colds and flues going to play with these toys and get–colds and flues? It never made sense to me. I guess some things were never meant to make sense.😉

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