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This Month In Life
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Doctor Appointment Know-How

Make the most of your doctor visit with these tips.

Whether it’s a routine appointment or a problem visit, you only have a short time with your doctor. Physicians have full schedules and a limited amount of time to spend with each patient. This means you’ve got to be prepared to make the most of your visit. Otherwise, you’ll leave with more questions than answers.

By being prepared for your appointment, you can change that. Instead of leaving confused, you can walk out of your doctor’s office with your questions answered and your concerns addressed. You’ll remember what the doctor said and have a complete understanding of your treatment plan.

If this sounds like a dream come true, use these tips to make it happen, whether you’re visiting your doctor in-person or online.

Make Lists

In the days leading up to your appointment, make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor. When you’re at an appointment it’s easy to get nervous and forget your questions. A list is the best way to make sure this doesn’t happen. Write the questions in order of importance. There may be three or four that you need answers to most. If time allows, ask the rest of them.

You should also come to your appointment with a list of your current medications and their dosage. This is especially important if you take more than one medication or your medications have long, hard-to-pronounce names. Be sure your list includes supplements, vitamins, and herbs that you take.

Jot down any changes to your personal medical history or your family medical history to share with the doctor. Both of these play an important role in your preventative care.

Be on Time

Your time is valuable and so is your doctor’s. If you’re late to your appointment, the office may make you reschedule. Make an effort to be on time or a few minutes early to fill out any necessary paperwork.

Using telehealth? Log in several minutes early for your first appointment. Arriving late may make you feel flustered or stressed when you see the doctor. Logging in lets you check to make sure your speaker and video camera are working and makes you feel more comfortable and prepared.

Take Notes

It’s easy to leave the doctor’s office and immediately forget what the doctor said. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, take a notepad and write down the instructions your doctor gives and the answers to your questions. If you don’t write notes during the visit, write things down as soon as you leave the appointment before you forget. For important doctor visits, take a family member or friend along who can write notes and help remember what the doctor said. Want to make sure you remember every word? Ask your physician if it’s okay to record your visit.

Get Clarification

If you don’t understand what the doctor says during the appointment, don’t expect to understand it when you leave the appointment. As your doctor gives explanations or instructions, ask for further clarification if necessary. Repeat back what you hear to ensure you understand. Confused when you get home? Call your doctor immediately to clear things up.

Be Honest

In order to provide the best care, your doctor must know the truth about your health. It’s not in your best interest to hide things or say what you think the doctor wants to hear. Certain medical conditions are embarrassing to talk about, but your doctor has heard and seen it all. Without knowing all of the embarrassing details, your doctor can’t provide a proper diagnosis or treatment. So honesty is the best policy at a doctor’s appointment.