Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Creating positive relationships

A positive relationship between parents and doctors depends on clear and frequent communication. Doctors should explain clearly and listen well, and parents should feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns before they become grievances. Here are a few suggestions from parents:

• Treat doctors with respect, and expect respect from them.

• Recognize that you are under stress and so are doctors and nurses. Do not blame them for your child’s illness or explode in anger. Be an advocate, not an adversary.

• Request a conference if you have something to discuss with the doctor that will take time. These are routinely scheduled between parents and physicians, and should allow enough time for a thorough discussion. Grabbing a busy doctor in the hallway is unfair to him, and may result in an unsatisfactory answer to you.

• Negotiate. You have a right to a conversation with the doctor about your wishes. Tell her what you would like to see happen, and discuss all of the options. You may be able to work out a mutually acceptable plan.

• Try to be genuinely friendly and helpful. Then, if a problem arises or you need help, your good relationship with staff will help you get a positive response.

• Show appreciation. A short thank-you note or a plate of cookies to a doctor or nurse will be warmly received.

I sent thank-you notes to three residents after my daughter’s first hospitalization. The notes were short but sweet. I wanted them to know how much we appreciated their many kindnesses.


I always try to thank the nurse or doctor when they apologize for being late and give the reason. I don’t mind waiting if it is for a good cause, and I feel they show respect when they apologize.