When you only see your doctor maybe once a year at most, unless you have an emergency visit, then you want to make the most of your limited time with them. You’ve probably left an appointment before only to realize there was a question you forgot to ask or concern you forgot to bring up. Your health is one of your important assets, so it pays to come prepared to your appointment and get everything you can out of those 15 or so minutes.
A good doctor will give you the time you deserve to feel valued and cared for, but the simple truth of the matter is that many doctors these days take on a full patient load and are forced to quickly hop from patient to patient. Gone are the days of the friendly, bespectacled doctor coming to your house for a home visit, medical case in hand. You may not be able to get your doctor to extend your appointment past the typical condensed timeframe, but you can have a productive visit by following these tips to get the most out of your time with your doctor.
- Come with a list of questions
If you write down everything you want to ask your doctor beforehand, then you won’t forget anything important. Make a list of all the questions you can think of before the important and consult it while speaking with your doctor. If you think of new ones during the appointment, don’t hesitate to ask those as well. Your doctor is there to listen and advise, not to judge, so don’t be afraid to ask them anything, no matter how personal it may feel.
- List your symptoms
Now is the time to bring up any concerns or symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor. Don’t feel like you’re being silly or acting like a hypochondriac for bringing up health concerns. Your doctor will be able to analyze your symptoms and diagnose you appropriately. Keep track of details like when the symptoms started, what time of day and how often they occur, how severe they are, what triggers them, and how long they last.
- Take notes
There’s no shame in taking notes during your appointment! According to a research review in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, older or anxious patients can forget as much as 80 percent of what their doctor told them after leaving the office. Bring a notepad and scribble away.
- Get your medical info in order
Have you ever forgotten the specific name of a medication you’re on when the nurse is taking down your information? We’ve all been in this position before, but it’s important that your doctor has your full medical history in order to best treat you. Put together a list of all the medications you’re on before your appointment, including dose and frequency, as well as a detailed medical history of your own health and any conditions that run in your family.
- Ask for a recap
Even if you’re attentive during your entire appointment, you can’t be expected to remember every detail your doctor tells you. Taking notes will eliminate the problem of forgetting anything important, but also if there was anything you were unclear on or need repeated, don’t hesitate to ask for a recap.