During my long career as a pediatrician in Palm Beach County, Florida, I welcomed parents to our office to meet the doctors before the birth of their baby. Not only was it a great marketing tool because we were the first in the area to do what we called “newborn consultations,” but it also gave parents a chance to see for the first time what it would be like to come to a pediatrician’s office.
We scheduled these appointments at the end of the day so that working parents would be able to attend. Because of this, the expectant parents sometimes had to wait a while before we brought them into the exam rooms. In this way, they learned why there might be a wait before they were seen after their baby was born.
Parents asked every sort of question at these visits. One which stood out was from a father who asked me if I had a mortgage on my house, which I found out was his way of asking if I were going to be around for the whole time that his child would be coming to our office. Since it was totally illogical, I was able to laugh about the question with him.
The wonderful long-term relationships that I built with many families over the years often came from these initial meetings. Parents often remembered every word I said. When I came to see them at the hospital after the baby was born, the connection was solidified even further.
The joy of being a pediatrician was in these longstanding relations of trust and communication with the parents. It’s a given that the kids are cute, fun to examine and thankfully most of the time, healthy, but the bonds which form with the whole family are what makes pediatrics such a wonderful specialty. In my case, these bonds were often established even before the babies were born!