Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Kids in tow 


I once had to bring my four children with me to an OB-GYN appointment. It reminded me that it’s important to recognize that patients may have challenges getting to clinic, and to work with them to find solutions. 

In my book “Triplets Make Four” I share a story of visiting the OB-GYN with all four of my children (yes, the triplets and their big brother). The appointment was last minute, my husband couldn’t take off work, and we couldn’t find a babysitter. As a busy mom and epidemiologist, I knew if I cancelled this appointment, 1) it would take MONTHS before I rescheduled it, and 2) my preventative care would be compromised. So, I showed up with my children in tow unapologetically. Because this is LIFE. And my providers (who were midwives) didn’t even flinch! They understood.  


We put the kids on one side of the room and closed the curtain, so I had some “privacy.” The kids were squealing and playing so I knew they were fine and wasn’t worried in the slightest. Afterward, my oldest, who was about six or seven at the time said, “Mama, I couldn’t help myself, I peeked.” 


My midwifery provider and I burst into laughter! In that moment, this little guy cut whatever awkwardness there could have ever been with his innocence. It was just so incredibly endearing!  


As a reproductive epidemiologist, I’m at the intersection of women’s neurological health, family health, pediatrics, and public health policy. My study participants are women like me, with multiple intersectionalities that predict many of their care access and health outcomes. I knew that if I cancelled that appointment, it would take at least six months for the stars to align for another.  If I missed that critical preventative care appointment what could have been the downstream consequence for me?  


My providers embraced a “come as you are” attitude and accommodated my needs in all the ways. I wasn’t my medical record number or my BMI. Nor was I merely a blood pressure measurement or my medical history. I was human. Fully and completely. 


Take a whole person approach in your practice. In the limited, insurance-mandated 15-minute appointment, ask your patients about their hobbies, their interests, what they’re making for dinner that day. Humanize the interaction. You will be amazed at how receptive they will be to your medical advice and will probably even return for their follow-up visit. Fully and completely as they are.  


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This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.