10 Tips for Better Doctor Visits
Developing good relationships with all our providers is important for our physical and mental health. Yet, many of us find it a challenge to do so.
So, how do we improve these interactions? Here are my top tips:
1. Arrive on time.
Any doctor that takes health insurance likely needs to see as many patients as possible each day in order to afford to keep their offices open and pay back their significant (and growing) medical school debt.
Arriving at least 15 minutes before your appointment (or the time request by your doctor) will help your doctor see all their patients on time, including you.
2. Put away your phone, work, and other distractions the entire time you are in your appointment.
This will help you stay focused on the concerns you are there to discuss and show your doctor you value their time.
3. Bring appropriate distractions for your children, especially if they’re young.
Good options include a sugar-free snack (ideally, something not too messy) and water, books, coloring pages, a stuffed animal, a small toy, or homework. Toys, iPads, Kindles, and phones (including yours) that make noise or flash lights are disruptive in the waiting area or exam room even when your kid is focused on it.
4. Bring a list of any new or persistent symptoms you have noticed.
It’s easy to forget what you wanted to talk about once you’re in the exam room. Especially, if you are feeling worried or uncomfortable. However, your provider cannot help you if they do not know what is going on.
5. Be prepared to take notes.
This is good practice at every appointment.
However, if you are possibly preparing for surgery or other significant procedures or struggle with anxiety during your appointments, it’s a good idea to bring another adult with you to take notes. That way you will have the support you need in your appointment and help remembering the treatment plan your doctor may be sharing with you.
Even at the best of times, it’s hard to remember what was discussed and the suggestions your doctor made during your appointment. With everything we are trying to balance in our busy, modern lives, it would be unreasonable to expect yourself to remember everything.
6. Share all your concerns openly and respectfully.
Good manners and mutual respect are always appreciated.
7. Don’t withhold information or concerns.
Do you find yourself thinking:
- “It’s probably not that bad…” or
- “I don’t know if it’s relevant?” or
- “This is so embarrassing!” or
- “I don’t want to be an inconvenience.”
Your time is valuable, too. You probably had to take time off work or arrange childcare to be there, right? In the appointment is the easiest place to ask questions and discuss your options. So, use this time productively.
8. Don’t let the appointment end before you are finished.
Most providers do not intend to rush you out the door. They became doctors because they are truly interested in helping you. If your doctor starts to leave and you still have more you need to talk about, then be sure to (politely) request a few more minutes of their time.
9. Find the right provider for your medical needs and personality.
Too many of us stick with a provider that isn’t a good fit for us, simply because it feels easier than the hassle of finding someone new. However, the wrong provider isn’t just unpleasant to be around, they can be harmful to our health.
If you feel like your medical provider (primary care, specialist, holistic, alternative, etc…) does not listen to your concerns or respect you, then it’s time to find someone new!
The other mistake I see clients make is to throw out an entire profession after one bad experience with one provider. Please, do not let one person’s bad bedside manner or poor judgement call prevent you from accessing the right care from a better provider.
10. Be your own health advocate!
Your health and happiness will never be more important to any other person than yourself. Value your body, your health, and your life.
You’re worth it!
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This blog post is general information only and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.