Working with and talking to your doctor
Your time is valuable. So when you go to a doctor, you probably want to get as much out of your visit as possible during the time you have. Also, your doctor wants to be of maximum service to you in the allotted time for your appointment. And appointment times can range anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on what type of doctor you are seeing and for what kind of problem(s).
In my practice, appointments are either 30 minutes or 50 depending on if it’s a follow up visit or an initial visit. So here are some suggestions to make your appointment more beneficial for you.
- For your first visit, be sure to arrive 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled appointment time so you can complete unfinished in-office paperwork and not be too rushed. And if there were forms you downloaded and completed ahead of time at home, make sure you don’t leave them at home. You’ll want to have as much face-to-face time with the doctor as possible. Having completed forms can definitely make your visit with the doctor more fruitful.
- Be prepared for your appointment by having as many lab or x-ray reports with you as possible. Keeping a personal health file is really a good idea, and you can just bring the whole file with you. Whenever you go to a doctor, remember to ask for copies of your reports, and put them into the file, keeping the most recent material on top. This can also save money because it may allow for less testing to be repeated.
- Try and have a pretty clear idea of your goal for the appointment. Being as clear as you can about what you want to accomplish during your time with the doctor helps guarantee a more satisfactory visit for you.
- Be sure to try and to tell the doctor what YOU think might be wrong with you or what you are afraid might be wrong. This ensures that your true concerns are met. And believe it or not, it can sometimes even help the doctor figure out what is wrong with you. That may seem surprising, but if you think about it, you have maybe been pondering and researching your condition for hours or days, and the doctor is just seeing you for less than an hour. So you may actually have come up with something that is not yet on your doctor’s radar for you.
- It is good to try and avoid dumping a large number problems and symptoms on the doctor all at once. It is also important to have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished in one single visit. There is a limited number of issues that can be covered in one sitting. Sometimes, in fact, your history may be so complex that the only thing that is accomplished in your first visit is taking most of your history, and doing a brief exam, and ordering some preliminary tests.
- You may have noticed that some doctors have egos. And that ego may not respond well to you coming in with an attitude of, “I’ve done my research, and now here is what I want you to give me or do for me.” Personally, I don’t mind that my patients do research, and in fact, I like it, if the research is from a respectable reputable source. In this century, with information readily available on the Internet, it is definitely a more level playing field. Sometimes, as disturbing as this may sound, the patients can actually know more about a particular uncommon issue than even the doctor, because they have done a lot of research on their own about their particular issue over above what the doctor may have learned or remembers. So be kind. Many doctors do not mind it if you bring him some good articles about an issue that is concerning you. But also keep in mind, he or she may not always have a whole lot of extra time to read all those articles in between or after patients.
Keeping these points in mind should make working with your doctor a better and more fulfilling experience, and lead you closer to getting the optimal health results you deserve.
Dr. William Epperly, Fellow American Academy of Family Practice
Fellow American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
Member of Christian Medical and Dental Society