How many times have you been to the doctor’s office and left feeling overwhelmed? Most doctor’s appointments are only between 15 and 30 minutes long, and there is a lot to get accomplished in that short time. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your doctor’s visit:
Make a short list of your questions and concerns. Bring a list of all your current medications including over the counter medications, herbal medicines and prescriptions from other doctors. Writing down your concerns gives clear direction for the doctor and tells him or her that you are serious about your health.
During your visit, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, you are the client and have every right to be fully informed about your health. Your questions might include:
- What is my diagnosis?
- What are my treatment options? What are the benefits and side effects? Are there alternatives?
- What tests will be involved in diagnosing my condition? How safe and accurate are the tests?
- How will the medications you prescribe help? Are there side effects?
- Do I need to take precautions to avoid affecting other people?
- Do I need to make lifestyle changes?
Be sure to take notes during your appointment so that you can refer to them later or bring someone with you who can help you to understand.
Rely on the Experts
Once you’ve asked your questions, it’s important that you hear and understand the answers. Remember - the doctors are the experts! Rely on them to guide you. There’s no harm in asking for more clarity or making another appointment if you need more information. If you remain unsure of the direction given, don’t be afraid to consult another medical expert for a second opinion – your current physician should welcome and support your choice.
It’s really important that you take responsibility for your health – no one else will! Applying these suggestions is a positive start in the right direction. Once you understand and are on board with the doctor’s advice, make every effort to follow the plan you agreed on. Keep the doctor informed of your progress and notify your physician if you are experiencing any side effects from your medication – you know your body better than anyone.
Taking a strategic approach to your doctor’s visits and health not only helps to improve the patient-doctor relationship but ultimately your wellbeing.