Welcome to guest blogger Tara Heath. Here she provides us with some great insights and reminders about “How to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Visit.”
Few people relish the thought of making a doctor’s appointment and visiting their healthcare professional on a semi-regular basis. However, seeing your doctor, whether you’re severely ill or are just going in for a general exam, is a vital part of maintaining your overall health.
Spending a morning or afternoon at the doctor’s office might not be the most exciting way to spend your day, but there are some ways you can expedite the process and make sure your appointment is efficient and effective as possible.
Scheduling Your Appointment
Before you even pick up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment, it’s important to take a few minutes to pinpoint the exact reason(s) why you’re calling in the first place. If you’re just calling to schedule a regular check-up, you likely will not have much to complain about.
On the other hand, if you’re contacting your doctor for a more pressing issue, take the time to list your symptoms and when you first started experiencing them. By doing this, the receptionist making the appointment can find the appropriate time for you to come in, or even make your visit a priority if you have severe symptoms.
Once you know exactly why you’re calling your doctor, it’s important to communicate that information to the person responding to your call. Don’t be embarrassed about symptoms– letting the doctor’s assistant know precisely what’s wrong will ensure you get the best care possible.
Try Off Hours
Going to the doctor can sometimes seem like an all-day activity, causing you to call-in sick for work or rearrange your schedule. When you make your appointment, try to schedule a time that is most convenient for you.
When speaking to the person who is scheduling your appointment, be sure to ask him or her when the office’s busiest times are, and try your best to grab a time outside of those hours (assuming that what you’re calling about isn’t pressing).
By scheduling your appointment between the slowest times of the day, you’ll likely end up spending less time in the waiting room.
It’s also important to remember to confirm your appointment with the office the day before your visit. While emergency situations do come up, you also don’t want to show up at your appointment only to find out you’ll have to wait an even longer time to see your physician.
The Day of Your Appointment
On the day of your appointment, you should try to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the actual time you are scheduled to be there. Doing so will give you enough time to complete any necessary paperwork, and show that you respect both the office and your doctor’s time.
If you know that you have to undress for your appointment, wear appropriate clothing. Make sure to follow any other instructions the doctor’s office gave you about your appointment, if any.
For example, if you are giving blood samples, your doctor may require you to be fasting; however, this will also depend on why they are examining your blood.
Talking to Your Doctor
Communicating with your doctor should be relatively simple, and they’ll likely prompt you for all of the information they’ll need. Still, it’s important to be as specific about your symptoms as possible.
Let your doctor know everything, including when you first noticed your symptoms and how severe they may be. If they seem worse during a certain time of day or when you’re performing a certain activity, be sure to share this information as well.
You will also likely be asked about what medications you are currently taking, as well as any changes you have made recently, so that they can keep your medical records as up-to-date as possible.
If you don’t think you’ll remember all of your symptoms and details, make a list and take it with you. Similarly, take notes when you are speaking with the doctor. Sometimes it’s hard to process all the information at once, and you might forget the small (but potentially important) details.
You can also take one other person with you if you think they’ll be helpful, but don’t bring more than one– it can be a distraction for the office staff and the doctor.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Your doctor will likely tell you what they think about your symptoms and how to go about treating them, but if you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to ask to get a clearer picture. It’s also okay to ask questions regarding your health, even if your doctor didn’t specifically address them in his or her diagnosis. A good doctor should encourage your questions and your engagement with your own health care. Especially the older you get, the more questions you should ask about your health because we tend to have more happen to us with age.
If you still have questions as you’re leaving the office, the nurses and medical assistants can be a great resource. It’s your health, and you should always feel comfortable asking what you need to know. Being prepared before you meet with your doctor should be an essential part of your doctor’s visit, and will help make your visit as beneficial as possible.
Tara Heath is a journalist who has been in the health and wellness industry for quite some time. She has worked and volunteered a lot of time at senior centers because her Grandma had Alzheimer’s. To read more of her articles check out her Google+.