Our trip to the doctor's office

You know what is never fun? Taking your sick kid to the doctor

You know what’s even less fun? Taking your sick kid to the doctor… in another country… in a language that you are still learning

Our youngest daughter, Maddie, woke up this past Monday with goop coming from her eyes, and immediately Glen and I guessed that she had pink eye. Unfortunately, Maddie has had the roughest time with being sick ever since we moved here. Those cute kids in the nursery like to share everything, but germs seem to be their favorite! Amazingly enough though, this was the first time that we’ve had to take her to the doctor.

Thankfully I could make an appointment online at the local hospital for Maddie to see a pediatrician that same day. Here in Massy, the hospital is broken up into its specialties, with pediatrics being one of those. Maddie and I found the pediatrics wing and then the doctor’s name on her exam room. A difference that we have observed in regards to medical offices here in France, is that doctors are responsible for much more of the office/administrative side of their practice than they are in the States. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to be their own receptionist / intake coordinator / billing department / and more. 

Shortly after our appointment time, our doctor came out into the hallway and led us into her exam room. The exam room had a desk, some file cabinets, an exam bench for Maddie to sit on, and a couple of arm chairs for parents to sit. There were one or two posters on the wall, but for the most part it was relatively plain. The doctor we visited with was older and reserved in her mannerisms, but once she started examining Maddie I could see that she had a heart for children.

Throughout the exam, the doctor encouraged me to hold and cuddle Maddie as much as possible since Maddie was very unsure of the whole thing. I couldn’t blame her though because I don’t particularly like going to the doctor either. Even though my French is still limited, the doctor didn’t write me off because of it. She tried to explain things as best as she could using terms that I could understand, and occasionally she would try to use English if she felt comfortable doing so.

At the end of the appointment, she wrote a prescription for Maddie for two types of eye drops, and she also wrote a prescription for her next round of vaccinations. Now the vaccination process is definitely something that is different here in France than in the States. Here in France, to get vaccinations it is a three-step process. First, you go to the doctor for the initial visit and they do a general check-up to make sure your child is healthy and growing. The doctor then writes you a prescription for the appropriate vaccines. With that prescription in hand, you go to the pharmacy and pick up the vaccines. After the pharmacy, you make another appointment at the doctor’s office for the actual administration of the vaccines. It’s not as convenient, but is also helps to keep costs down for the doctor as it reduces their overhead and staff that they need to have on hand to manage vaccines / medications kept on site. Just an observation for you parents and medical professionals out there.

Finally, we paid the doctor while we were at the appointment. There’s a list of appointment types posted by the doctor and their corresponding costs, and it’s expected that you pay your fee at the time of your appointment. Our appointment cost €31 and then the medicine at the pharmacy cost around €25. So not bad at all! Currently we have private insurance, but eventually we may be able to be covered under the national health care.

While it wasn’t “fun,” our trip to the pediatrician went about as well as I could have hoped. And even though I had to miss my language classes, I was still able to practice French and learn more about how life is done in France. And most importantly, Maddie is doing better!

~ Jessica ~