10 Tips for Doctor Appointments

The global pandemic has changed the way we see the doctor. Get tips for your next visit, whether it’s virtual or in person.

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COVID-19 cancelled a lot of doctor appointments, so how do you get back on track? Regular appointments are important for everyone, but especially for those who are managing complicated health conditions. Here are 10 tips that work whether you’re going to the doctor in person for a traditional appointment or having a video visit. 

  1. Write down your questions for the doctor and try to limit yourself to the most important ones.  
  2. Create a list of all the medications you take and their dosages.
  3. Know how to access your medical records and consider getting copies of recent test results.
  4. On the day of your appointment, remember your question list, your medication list and copies of test results.
  5. Arrive on time, or even a little early.
  6. Begin by telling the doctor when he or she walks in that you’d like to ask a few questions.
  7. Take notes and don’t be embarrassed to take notes. It’s hard to both have a conversation and remember all that was said.
  8. Bring someone with you. A friend or family member can help you stay focused and recall more details about what the doctor said.
  9. Get to know the nurses and support staff. They’re often more available than your doctor. Ask for the best way to contact them. Should you call them directly, email, or use the patient portal?
  10. Be sure to record your next appointment in your calendar.

Doctor visits are usually short and the doctor has important tasks to accomplish like reviewing your recent test results. But a doctor visit should also give you, the patient, an opportunity to describe how you’re feeling, to ask questions, to receive new information about your health and to discuss any changes you would like to make.

Remember that it’s your chance to tell the doctor what’s working well, and what’s not working for you. Like any relationship, you both might need to make adjustments. But with a little give and take, you and your doctor can build a healthy partnership based on respect and communication that goes both ways.