How to get the most out of your doctor’s appointment
We all know the drill… you show up for your doctor’s appointment, you wait X amount of minutes for the nurse to call your name, weigh in (always the fun part, I know), then step in to a room where you’re instructed to sit on an oversized paper gum wrapper and wait. Twenty minutes later, the doctor steps in to ask you about your symptoms, and in many cases, the doctor seems as though they are in a hurry. If you want to make sure you get the most from your doctor during that time, be sure you’re asking the right questions!
Make a list of items you want to discuss, brief your doctor on these items so the two of you can determine which items need to be addressed right away and which items can wait until your next appointment. Keeping a journal or notebook dedicated to health concerns, prescription questions, diet, exercise, etc. is a good idea.
Never be afraid to talk to your doctor about what’s really going on. As my own mother (who is a nurse) once told me, there really isn’t much a doctor hasn’t seen or experienced with another patient. If you’re not sure why your doctor is asking you a specific question, ask! Your doctor is there to help you, no matter how busy they seem to be.
Talk to the nurse at the nurse station before you go into your examination room. Just as the doctors are there to help you, so are their nurses. In many cases, the nurses can answer questions you have about your health. If for any reason they cannot answer a question for you, they will simply tell you that you will need to ask the doctor. Once you leave the examination room, feel free to ask any follow up questions with the nurse. Many times, the nurse will check with the doctor about your question before you leave to clear up any outstanding issues you thought of after leaving the examination room.
Remember that getting the most from your doctor’s time is all about communication. It’s also important to be honest when communicating with your doctor! Doctors go through all those years of education and hard work because they are passionate about healing and helping, YOU!
For more information and a specific list of common questions for your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website’s “Questions Are the Answer Series” at www.ahrq.gov/questionsaretheanswer/.
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