Here are some things you can do before, during and after your visit to the doctor.
Ever walk out of your doctor’s office and wonder where the time went? While every doctor aims to offer the best health care possible, today’s medical professionals are often short on time. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel short-changed. Here’s how you can make the most of your visits:
Before your visit
- Ease travel. Fend off frustration by reviewing the details of your appointment such as location, time, parking arrangements and transportation routes.
- Dress right. Avoid clothing complications by dressing appropriately. For example, if a problem involves your leg, wear loose trousers for easy examination.
- Schedule smart. Try to schedule your visit for a Wednesday or Thursday morning when doctors’ offices are typically less packed. If you’re not sure, ask the receptionist if your doctor experiences any “slow days”.
- Make a list. Have tons of questions? Write them down. It’s easy to forget what’s on your mind when sitting face-to-face with a professional.
- Buddy up. If you think you may have trouble hearing or understanding your doctor, ask a family member or trusted friend to come with you.
- Keep a headache or migraine diary. You’ll know and can better respond to your triggers by tracking and recording them. It’s an indispensable tool to help you and your doctor take action against future episodes.
During your visit
- Be precise when describing your symptoms. “It hurts” simply won’t cut it with your doctor. Instead, use words like throbbing, dull or burning to convey meaningful information about your pain. (Where does it hurt?)
- Stick to the point. Sharing pictures of your newest grandchild will only waste precious time and force your doctor to lose sight of the main reason for your visit.
- Keep your priorities. Discuss the most important matters first, in case you run out of time.
- Ask for take-aways. Ask your doctor for handouts or brochures that you and your family members can review at home. Your doctor may refer you to a website for more information.
- Speak up. No problem is too embarrassing to discuss with a healthcare practitioner. From sexual concerns to issues of incontinence, your doctor has heard it all before so don’t hold back.
- Write it down. If the adage “in one ear and out the other” means anything to you, you may want to take notes on what the doctor tells you. And don’t be afraid to ask questions if a medical term or recommendation is unclear.
After your visit
- Schedule a follow up. Before you leave the office, schedule a follow-up appointment if your doctor requests one or if you ran out of time and have more to discuss.
- Do your homework. Review the materials the doctor gave you. If you can't remember something, or if you don't understand your notes, call the office and speak to a member of your health care team.
- Don’t cut corners. Follow your doctor's instructions and take the full course of medication you’ve been prescribed.
- Provide updates. Keep your doctor informed of any changes in your condition or adverse reactions to medications.
Questions: What to ask at your next doctor’s appointment
- What is the clinical name for my problem?
- What are typical symptoms?
- What are the causes of the problem or the disorder?
- Could some other condition be causing my symptoms?
- What is the typical experience of other patients with this kind of problem or disorder?
- What could I do myself to improve my condition?
- Should I take prescription medications for my symptoms?
- What side effects should I expect?
- How soon should I have a follow-up appointment?