How to Talk to Your Doc
Sometimes, going to the doctor is a stressful experience. What will he/she find? What will he/she tell me to do? Will I need to take medication or have a procedure? What if he/she cannot find anything wrong? Will the doctor listen to me and really try to figure out what is wrong?
Doctors are busy. The traditional medical office might allow for 5 minutes with the doctor. Even if you are fortunate enough to see a doctor who spends at least 20 minutes with you on each visit like we do in our office, here are some tips to make your visit is as productive as possible.
1. Be Prepared (but not over-prepared).
If this is the first time you are seeing the doctor, you filled out paperwork either immediately before or in the weeks before your visit. Depending on the doctor, he or she may not have reviewed that paperwork before coming into the examining room. So, be prepared to answer the question, “So, what brings you here today?” in a few short sentences. [Click to Tweet] Prior to your visit, jot down the most important things you want the doctor to know, not every symptom you’ve ever had, or your entire health history. If you need to, you can bring your little checklist with you. This will serve 2 purposes: (1) give the doctor the critical information needed to diagnose and treat you; and (2) force you to really narrow down and focus on what is really bothering you.
If you see this doctor regularly, you should also prepare for your visit by jotting down specific questions, improvements, and issues that have arisen since your last visit. You can assume that the doctor is familiar with your history at this point so there is no need to go back over any of those items unless it specifically relates to a question or issue that has come up since your last visit.
Whether this is the first visit with the doctor or one of many visits, there is such a thing as being “over-prepared.” Information is at our fingertips thanks to the internet. We Google everything. 35% of people say that they have gone on-line to figure out what medical condition they (or someone else) may have. But, only 41% of people say that a medical professional has confirmed that diagnosis. . [Click to Tweet] So, what this means is that you may work yourself up for absolutely no reason when you try to self-diagnose on the internet. According to Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, many of her patients “come in after sleepless nights spent worrying about dangerous diseases they’ve learned about through web searches. ‘While I love their sense of curiosity and ownership of their health,’ she says, ‘their online searches can (and often do) go awry.'” Go ahead and do some internet research but remember when doing it to consider the source and understand that you are not a medical professional. By all means, mention your research to your doctor (briefly) but then allow the doctor to do his or her work.
2. Bring a Current List of Medications and Vitamins
If it has been awhile since you have seen your doctor, you must give the office a current list of all medications, vitamins and over-the-counter medication you are taking. If you have not put together a list before you go to your appointment, you cannot accurately communicate this information to your doctor either on a form or during your office visit. This will make it hard for your doctor to discuss a treatment plan with you during your visit. This means you cannot ask questions about that treatment plan with the doctor sitting right in front of you. For example, if you are visiting an oral surgeon to discuss possible dental surgery in 2 weeks, your doctor will need to know what supplements/medications you are taking right now so he or she can tell you what changes you need to make before surgery. You may have questions about those changes.
3. Be Courteous But Firm.
We have all been to a doctor at some point who breezed in and out so fast that there was absolutely no time to ask any questions even if properly ready. There are times when this is necessary due to a medical emergency with another patient. Otherwise, you should ask when scheduling your appointment how long you will have with the doctor that day and politely insist that you get that time. Plan your questions (see #1 above) so that they fit within that time-frame. You can start your appointment by telling the doctor that his or staff told you that you had 10 minutes with the doctor and that you are considerate of his or her time and schedule and that you prepared for your visit to make sure everything is addressed within that time-frame. Remember, too, that the doctor will have certain things that he or she has to do that will take time so it might be wise to time your questions for about 1/2 of the allotted appointment time.
You should also remember that the doctor does have other patients on his schedule. Once you have reached the end of your allotted time, you should respect the doctor and his other patients and be ready to end the appointment quickly. If you have other questions that have not been answered, ask the doctor if you can discuss those with his staff or give them a written list of questions that the doctor or staff can answer by phone at a later time. If you have followed the steps outlined above though, your visit should have been productive and efficient for both you and your doctor.
We would love to hear about one of your doctor visits that were either productive or that left you feeling uncertain or confused. Maybe we can figure out a solution.
May 23, 2018, republished from February 11, 2016
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Jessica Eckman, Chiropractic Physicians