Talking with Your Healthcare Team

Pictured: Kim Kramer Pediatric oncologist Kim Kramer meets with a patient and family to discuss treatment options.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we want patients and families to feel comfortable communicating about pediatric cancer care with our healthcare teams. As a parent or patient, you have important decisions to make about treatment, and you should never be afraid to ask our staff questions that can guide you during this process.

Here are several tips for talking with your healthcare team, provided by others who have been through the diagnosis and treatment experience in our Department of Pediatrics.

  • Prepare your questions in advance – Before your appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you may find it useful to write a list of questions to help you stay on track. You should put the questions of most concern to you first on the list. To help you get started, you can review our list of common questions you may wish to ask.
  • Bring a relative or friend to the appointment – You may find it difficult to remember everything that you hear. Having a friend or family member with you to take notes or recall the discussion can be helpful.
  • Take notes – Writing down notes during the appointment may help you recall the answers to your questions and the information communicated by your child’s doctor.
     
  • Speak up if you or your child don’t understand something – Your child’s doctor may assume that you are following the discussion if you don’t speak up when something is unclear to you. Please ask all of the questions that you and your child have. It can be helpful to ask the doctor to draw a diagram to explain what he or she is describing. You can also try repeating what the doctor has said aloud, to confirm that you understand the information.
  • Ask for a language interpreter if needed – We understand that our patients and families come from a variety of backgrounds and speak many different languages. In advance of your appointment, please contact your healthcare team to arrange interpretation services.
  • Find out how to contact your care team – It is possible that all of your questions may not be covered at an appointment, or you may have questions come to mind when you are making a treatment decision after an appointment. Ask how to continue the discussion with any member of the treatment team, either in person or on the phone.