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What to Bring to Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

You make an appointment at your doctor’s office for three weeks out, you sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes, you get into the room and your doctor asks you a few questions about what brought you in, writes your prescriptions, types in notes, and is out the door faster than you can say “Echocardiogram”.  Does this sound familiar to you guys? You leave thinking of the questions you mulled over for weeks that you meant to ask, and about the answers and care that you did not get. It’s frustrating! And can cause issues we have to slip through the cracks and our overall health to decline.

Despite the best intentions of health care providers, our current health care system does not always allow us the time we need to feel cared for.  In a perfect world we would have as long as we needed with our providers.   We would be encouraged to be our own advocates, and to ask questions not only about our specific health concern but also about how our body is working as whole.

I do believe that a more holistic view of patient care is on the rise, but while we work within the confines of our current system, here are some tips I’ve learned from personal experience to maximize your time at your next doctor’s visit to get the best care possible:

Write down a list of questions before your visit. This way you won’t forget everything you’ve been thinking of before the visit and have a checklist to systematically go through.  You can let the provider know that you’ve prepared these questions and he/she will be more likely to spend the time reviewing your concerns.

Bring another person.  Especially if you are feeling stressed out or concerned about your visit, another person can help you remember what was said during the appointment. Doctors often times forget that not everyone knows the medical jargon they use and a lot can get lost in translation. Another trusted person can serve as a note taker, a second opinion and even a support system.

Bring your medications, if taking any, to review with the doctor or nurse.  The doctor may ask if you need any prescriptions refilled or may change certain medications, and it’s really beneficial if you have all of them in front of you to avoid double dosing or taking discontinued medications at home.   The nurse at the office would be happy to review these with you and make sure everything checks out.

Do your research.  Doctors or nurses might be cringing as they read this thinking of the piles of googled WebMD articles that will flood their desks, but I don’t mean it in this way! If you doctor has suggested a new therapy, read up about it and find out everything you can so you can have a meaningful and productive conversation during your visit. Be your own advocate! It is your body and it is 100% your business.  You may also come across alternative therapies you may want to suggest to your provider that he/she didn’t think of that could add to your overall health and well being.  

Do you guys have any other tips from your own experience? Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know! 

xx Christina Tidwell, MN, RN