You’ve booked your doctor’s appointment in advance, the day finally comes, and you’re ushered into the examination room. Five minutes later, you’re on your way out again — your allotted time with your doctor is over and your questions have been left unanswered.
Many of you have undoubtedly experienced this when visiting your doctor. Here, I want to provide you with some helpful advice about how you can get the most out of your doctor’s appointment.
One suggestion is to write down the list of things you’d like to tell your doctor. Writing your health concerns down on paper will help you avoid having to make confusing or frustrating attempts to communicate when you and your doctor are on different wavelengths.
Listing health concerns in order of importance can also help you to make more efficient use of your time during your appointment. By saving the least important for last, you can at least ensure that, even if you run out of time, you’ve addressed the major issues. Nothing can be more frustrating than going all the way to the doctor’s office, only to leave without having anything resolved.
It’s also a good idea to write down the names of prescription medications that you are using. List the dosages and include any over-the-counter medications you are taking as well.
If you can, do some of your own research before you go to your doctor’s appointment. If you know what is bothering you, find out what treatments are available and write down any questions you have. If you’re feeling ill and you don’t know what is wrong, then write down all of your symptoms and anything unusual that you know about them. For example, if you experience nausea after you eat a meal, write it down along with any associated symptoms that you may be experiencing as well.
Try to answer your doctor’s questions as frankly as possible. If you haven’t been following a treatment plan exactly, or have been taking a different dose of medication than has been prescribed, let your doctor know. This will help him/her make a more accurate diagnosis of your condition.
Another helpful thing to remember is that you can say the phrase “I don’t understand.” Because your doctor may be pressed for time, answers to your questions may be presented quickly and without much explanation. If there is anything you don’t understand, then go ahead and say so. Also write down any short, important instructions your doctor gives you.
If all else fails, and you’ve run out of time during your appointment, don’t forget about the medical assistants and nurses who work at the office. They might be able to help if you are still unclear about a certain issue, as they may be less pressed for time and can give additional clarity when it comes to treatment instructions and medical diagnosis.
Finally, remember that a good doctor will encourage you to understand your condition and the treatments he/she prescribes. He/she should welcome your active participation during the appointment, so be proactive and make the most of the time you have with your doctor.