Every time I go see my doctor, I forget to tell them something important or get my questions answered. How can I make sure I get what I need out of my doctor’s appointment?
We naturally look to our doctor as an expert and expect them to provide us what we need. However, you must remind yourself that you are the best expert about your own body. It is important that each one of us make sure our doctor knows what concerns us, what we are experiencing and what is important to each of us in terms of our medical care.
Doctor’s appointments feel shorter and more rushed than ever before. In fact, one study showed the average primary care appointment lasts only 17.5 minutes. Your doctor is asking questions, typing notes and leading the conversation. At the end of the appointment the doctor may ask if you have any questions, but by that time you might forget or feel embarrassed to ask.
The key is to remember that only you can be your own best advocate. This is your appointment and you can and should take charge of your own needs.
Before your appointment, think through what you hope to achieve from the visit. Think about symptoms, concerns, medication issues and lifestyle changes you want to talk about.
Be prepared with a list of your questions and concerns in writing so you won’t miss anything during the appointment. Bring a notepad to take notes. Be sure to have a list of your current medications and supplements as one doctor may not know what another prescribed.
Ask a friend or relative to attend with you if you are worried you may not remember what the doctor says. When we are stressed or overwhelmed our mind will not be as clear. A friend who we trust beside us can take notes and may even think of different questions to ask.
Arrive early to the appointment. You will check in at the front desk and if it is a new doctor you are seeing they will have you fill out paperwork. Be sure to have your ID and insurance information with you. When they are ready for you a nurse will call you back and start by taking your vital signs. You may want to give the nurse your list of questions so the doctor has a chance to be prepared to address your concerns.