Health From Childhood

Routine checkups are the basis of good health from childhood into adulthood. Getting the most out of your children's doctor appointments can give them a good start. Andrew Rzepka, MD, pediatrician at Park Nicollet Clinic-Brookdale, recommends the following tips to maximize each pediatric visit.

Arrive early. Dr. Rzepka recommends arriving at least 15 minutes early for your child's appointment. Following this advice allows time for paperwork and ensures flexibility for patients and doctors.

Avoid overscheduling. "Avoid scheduling appointments for more than one or two children on the same day, because it can be difficult to remember everything discussed," Dr. Rzepka says. It also is important to allow enough time for each appointment in case more tests are needed.

Confirm your appointment. "If you are not contacted a day or two before the appointment, call the office to confirm the visit," Dr. Rzepka says. This also is a good time to have any insurance questions or concerns answered.

Bring a list of concerns and questions. "Parents should write their questions and concerns beforehand so they don't forget anything. Patients also should ask the most important questions first," Dr. Rzepka recommends. Additionally, bring a list of all medications (including dosage), vitamins and supplements your child uses.

Bring another set of ears. Simultaneously caring for a child and listening to the doctor can be difficult. "With pediatrics, it is nice when both parents are there to listen to the doctor's recommendations," Dr. Rzepka says.

Leave distractions at home. "Please don't bring unnecessary electronic devices, extra children or pets," Dr. Rzepka says. If you bring a cell phone or pager, it is helpful if you turn them off during your visit with the doctor. "It is important to take health seriously and with distractions, there is the risk of something being overlooked," he adds.

List all concerns. "Doctors set aside a certain amount of time for each patient and concern," Dr. Rzepka says. If you want to discuss more than one health concern, or another sibling, be sure to tell the doctor's office when you initially schedule the appointment.

Understand your child's illness. "Obtain information about the expected course of illness so you know when your child can expect to feel better," Dr. Rzepka says. "It also is important to know when test results are expected to be available and follow up, if required."