I remember my last visit to my pediatrician, Dr. Monroe, when I was 13 years old. Dr. Monroe was a family staple who was passed down to us through our older cousins. From my first visit, when I was only a few weeks old to my last in my teen years, my pediatrician became more like a family friend. Not only was she my doctor, but also my siblings and other family members. On her office wall you could see pictures of all the Callahan children, from first violin recitals to high school & college graduations. During my last visit she gave me a gift. It was a leather bound journal with a personal message from her written on the inside:
“You’ve blossomed so beautifully, now touch the world with your grace & astonish them with your intelligence.”
Throughout the years I’ve always kept in touch with Dr. Monroe and amazingly she was still practicing medicine when I found out I was pregnant. I remember calling her after I found and I could hear the excitement in her voice. Yet another generation of my family would eventually make it to her wall of fame! The one thing I will always remember from that conversation was that even though she was excited, her voice wasn’t as strong or zestful as it used to be. I asked her how she was doing and if everything was ok with her. After a few seconds of hesitation, she informed me that she was ill. Right then, I felt a pang in my heart because I knew that my son would only have a few visits with Dr. Monroe. I remember the last visit to see her, her son was there instead, and informed me that he was taking over her patients. She had given him a little box to give to me. Inside was a card I gave her when I was in kindergarten and also a letter she wrote to my son:
“Not only has your mother become a great woman, I know in my heart, she’s produced a great child. Go into the world and make a difference.”
As you can tell Dr. Monroe loved to write letters! On October 23, 1999, Dr. Monroe passed away. Eventually her son became my son’s new pediatrician. He continued her ‘wall of fame’ and collected photos of events from all of her old patients & his new ones. When my son turned 4 we relocated to Maryland. I knew that I would have to immediately find another pediatrician, but no one would come close to the Monroe doctors!
I read resource after resource, the most important factors for me was office hours; particularly I needed one who had weekend & evening hours, which isn’t always easy to find. Even with all of the reading I did, and looking at ratings, I knew the best type of reference is always word of mouth. I remember calling up a family member who lived about 45 minutes away to see who her pediatrician was. Ironically, she had her own version of Dr. Monroe.
Dr. Gilliard was the pediatrician who saw all of my younger cousins, starting with her oldest who was 14 at the time, and to the youngest who was 4 months old. He had the evening office hours & weekend hours I was looking for. Also, the practice included a group of doctors that were available 24/7 by phone, email or text message, if Dr. Gilliard wasn’t available.
When I made my first visit to his office to ‘interview’ him, I was definitely impressed with the layout of the office. There was a ‘well area’ and a ‘sick area’ with their own entrances & exits, that obviously separated the sick patients from the wellness visit patients. Also, the office was definitely furnished with kids in mind. Each doctor had their own area called a ‘pod’, which had different themes. One minute you could be in a SeaWorld theme, the next in space camp. As far as the interview went, Dr. Gilliard went over his background with me, as should every doctor when you first meet them. I definitely felt comfortable with him, and he even offered me a chance to speak with the parents of his other patients.
Needless to say, for the past 6 years, my son has made his way several times to Dr. Gilliard’s very own wall of fame, which now actually consists of an interactive website. Dr. Gilliard may not give out handwritten letters like Dr. Monroe, but he has his own special touch.
How did you find your pediatrician? Have you referred yours to other families?
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