If you’ve ever left a doctor’s office feeling frustrated, flustered, or unsatisfied, you’re not alone. Many a patient has walked in seeking assistance and walked out feeling like their concerns didn’t get a full hearing because their health care provider was in a rush or unwilling to listen. The situation can be equally frustrating for dedicated doctors and nurse practitioners who want to deliver excellent patient care but must operate within certain time constraints to keep their offices open. Learning how to make the most of your doctor’s appointment can make the experience more successful, and more pleasant, for both you and your doctor.
How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment
According to the Patient Empowerment Network, a patient has an average of just 23 seconds to explain what concern has prompted their visit before they’re interrupted by the doctor. Perhaps that’s why less than 30 percent of doctors are aware of all their patient’s concerns for the visit before they begin to zero in on a specific one. That can be problematic for patients because the likelihood of turning their doctor’s attention to another concern is just 8 percent. Clearly, discovering how to make the most of your doctor’s appointment is a vital skill.
Prepare for Your Visit
Laying the groundwork for a good doctor’s visit begins before you leave home. You will have a limited amount of time to make yourself heard, so you need to be ready. Get organized. Think about what you want to discuss with your doctor. Make a list of questions, and take it along to the visit. If you have more than one concern, consider your priorities. Be aware that you may need to make more than one appointment if there isn’t time for your doctor to address all your concerns in one visit.
Tell the Office All the Reasons for Your Visit
Are you in need of a physical? Has a nagging cold turned into something worse? Is your sore knee acting up? Did an advertisement you saw on television make you wonder if a different medication might work better than your current treatment? When you call to make your appointment, be sure to tell the office the reasons for your visit. If there are multiple, make that clear, so that they can schedule your doctor’s time appropriately. If you request an appointment for a sore throat, but you arrive hoping to discuss your sore throat, your tricky back, and your cholesterol meds, don’t be surprised if your doctor asks you to return at a later date.
Be Honest with Your Doctor
It can be tempting to tell your doctor what you think they want to hear. Instead, be honest. If you are trying to exercise, but it isn’t going well, telling them allows them to offer suggestions. Your doctor needs to know the truth to offer you the best care. If they react poorly or inappropriately to the truth, that is a sign that you should seek care elsewhere.
Your doctor can provide a lot of excellent information, but it’s often hard to remember it all. Take notes, and ask for handouts or other resources. Do you remember the list of questions that you brought? Consider leaving space between the questions when writing them down so that you can take notes beneath each one.