Spring 2017 Issue
to Home Page PRINT PAGE
The Chronicles of Building Rapport with Pediatric Patients
By Imran Masood, OMS-IV
Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine
Imran Masood, OMS-IV
It was Friday at 4:30 pm when we received the call of another patient being admitted to the floor. It was a six-year-old girl with severe abdominal pain and elevated serum lipase. We brought her to the inpatient unit and performed the usual management for acute pancreatitis.
When I walked into the room, she clutched onto her teddy bear, clearly frightened by the whole situation. I did my best to build rapport. I tried talking to her about fun things she does at home, playing games with her, distracting her, etc. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t break through the defensive shell of fear that consumed her. At that moment, it became my personal goal to earn her friendship by the time she was discharged.
Day of Hospitalization #1:
Today I returned with the child-life specialist. We brought coloring books, paintable plastic frogs, and even board games. Again, she curled up into a little ball and didn’t want to be bothered.
Day of Hospitalization #2:
I saw her being pushed around in the hallway on a toy wagon. We tried to bond over the Disney princesses on the balloon she had. One more time, she curled up into a little ball, and didn’t want to be bothered.
Day of Hospitalization #3:
By now, I was even more determined to win her over. The child-life specialist advised me to try the animal route, so I grabbed some cool animal stickers. This time, when I entered the room, she took a long look at the stickers I brought, took them from me, then curled back up into a little ball, and clearly wanted me out of the room. I thought I was getting closer.
Day of Hospitalization #4/Day of Discharge:
After morning rounds, I made one final attempt to befriend this patient. I brought stickers again, which she gladly accepted. When I tried to get a high-five she, once again, curled up into a little ball. I left the room, feeling slightly dejected that all my effort for this patient had failed. Just before leaving the hospital that evening, I received a page from the nurse, “the patient from room 12 is requesting to take a selfie with you before leaving.” ‘Yes!’ I thought to myself. We took a selfie on her sister’s phone- her, me and most importantly, her teddy bear. She said thank you, and gave me a hug.
After discharging her home, I reflected on that experience. She arrived on day one, very ill and closed-off. With our daily treatment, we witnessed her transform from the tired and irritable child, to the joyful and rambunctious kid that she truly was. Although it took a few days to develop rapport, she thanked me before going home.
As a future pediatrician, this moment was the best validation that I could have asked for and was a true reassurance that I’ve made the right choice in pursuing a career in pediatrics.