BlackDoctor.org: Get More Out of Your Next Doctor’s Appointment
How many times have you returned home from your doctor’s visit only to realize that the main issue you had (and the entire reason you scheduled the appointment in the first place) didn’t get resolved in that visit? If this has ever happened to you in the past or recently, you are definitely not alone. “For many people going to the doctor can be frustrating and fearful,” says Nurse Alice (Alice Benjamin), a nationally board certified Clinical Nurse Specialist and BlackDoctor.org contributing expert. “One thing I always tell my patients is that the doctor works for you, so there is no need to feel like a burden. You (or your insurance) is paying for a service so there is no reason to tolerate less than A1 treatment.”
To prevent these sort of issues from happening, here’s a mini guide to help you better prepare for a more productive doctor’s visit.
This includes but isn’t limited to the following: determine what it is you want from your visit; bring a list of specific questions you want to ask your doctor, medications you’re currently taking, symptoms you’ve been experiencing, your medical history; and any other information you may find important. If you have had recent test results since you last saw your doctor, bring these with you, says Nurse Alice. “Even if it was your doctor that you’re going to see who sent you to get the test, bringing the results will make sure that they are discussed during the visit. This is helpful because this raises the doctor’s awareness to what was going on with you before to determine what if anything has changed in your health.”
“It’s important to have a notebook and pen to take notes. Write down things that don’t make sense, and ask for clarification,”advises Nurse Alice. You should never leave your visit with any unanswered questions unless you forget and that shouldn’t happen if you follow the previous step. Essentially, you should feel comfortable asking your doctor any questions you have, especially if and when you do not understand something. Not the case? Then it’s time to switch doctors.
On one hand, it isn’t recommended that patients research their symptoms beforehand because it often leads to them thinking they have some disease that they don’t actually have. On the flip side, it’s a wise idea to do just enough research so that you have something to refer to when speaking with your doctor and so that you can familiarize yourself with certain medical terms related to your symptoms and/or condition. As Nurse Alice explains,”It’s okay to ask your doctors about what you read on the Internet. An important role of the doctor’s which often gets shortchanged is patient education. Your doctor should be able to explain to you what is going on and why what you read on the internet does or does not pertain to you.”