Making the most of your doctor visits

By Tye Young, DO, UT Erlanger Primary Care East
Posted on May 21, 2015

Adjust your mindset.

When visiting a doctor, patients tend to adopt the mindset that their fates are solely in the hands of the professionals. This leads some to show up, say a few words, and leave without getting a complete grasp of their health situations.

As a patient, it is important to remember these two things:

  1. Your doctor is the expert on medical care.
  2. You are the expert on you.

Nobody, including your doctor, can tell you how you’re feeling better than you can. For this reason, it is important that you not think of your doctor as your boss but more like a coworker. To get the most out of your visit, you have to work together.

Prepare for your visit.

Start by writing down any medical problems or symptoms you have, as well as the names and dosages of medications you’re taking. You may think you’ll remember all this information, but they can slip your mind by the time the appointment comes around. These will also be some of the doctor’s first questions for you.

Next, do some brief, online research. Be sure to write down any questions that arise. Then, when you go to your appointment, you’ll have a basic understanding of your symptoms and be ready to ask questions of your own.

Be upfront and honest with your doctor.

Doctor appointments can be uncomfortable for many patients. This causes them to withhold valuable information. Remember, it’s likely that anything you tell your doctor, they’ve heard a hundred times before.

Be sure to tell your doctor everything that could affect your health. Do you exercise? How much sleep do you get? How much alcohol do you consume? Are you having regular bowl movements? A visit to the physician is confidential. Complete information will help your doctor accurately evaluate your health and lead to a quicker recovery.

Actively participate during your visit.

This all starts with listening to your doctor very closely. Most doctors will explain everything as clearly as possible and will often provide you with suggestions on what to do next. If anything is unclear, be sure to ask your doctor to clarify. Never leave the appointment with unanswered questions.

To make the process easier, bring someone with you to be a second set of ears. Sometimes, it can be hard for you to think straight when a doctor is talking about your personal health. Having someone with you will help ensure you don’t miss anything.

Ask for homework.

At the end of the appointment, ask what you can do going forward to help take better care of yourself. Be sure to write down your doctor’s advice or request an email with the specific tips and suggestions.

In many cases, another appointment may be necessary. Be sure to get this information worked out and approved before you leave.

To contact us or to make an appointment with a specialist, call 423-778-2564.

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