Get the most out of a doctor visit
Visiting the doctor can be a frustrating experience. I recently waited two hours past my appointment time in order see a doctor that was in and out of my exam room in less than 15 minutes. According to Psychology Today, the average time spent visiting with a doctor is 13 minutes.
It may not be fair, but we all have 13 minutes to get the very most out of our doctor's appointments. Because of this, I have found ways that you can get the most of your next trip to the doctor. These are adapted from tips given by Lissa Rankin, an OB/GYN and award winning author.
• Do your homework. Since you may only have 13 minutes to spend with your doctor, do your homework before arriving. There are many useful tools online to help you narrow down your symptoms. At the very least you will able to give your doctor a better idea of what you are dealing with.
• Make a list. It is easy to forget all of your questions once inside an examination room. After doing your homework, make a list of questions that you have. This way you can be sure to address all of your concerns with your doctor.
• Bring updated medical records. Not all medical records are sent to your doctor right away. If you are expecting results from a test, request that you receive a copy as well. This way you can take your health records with you. You will be saving time and hassle in the event that the doctor does not have the updated information.
• Make your desires known at the beginning of your visit. This is your appointment. You are more than likely paying good money to see the doctor. The doctor is there to serve you. Politely tell your doctor what you expect from your visit at the beginning of your appointment. By doing this, you can be certain that your needs are being met.
• Tell the truth. There are times when the truth may be embarrassing to admit. However, tell the doctor the absolute truth. This way you will not waste one minute of the 13 that you get to spend with your doctor.
• Share your intuitions. You know your body better than anyone does, including your very educated doctor. Make sure you feel right about your diagnosis and the treatment the doctor prescribes. If something doesn't feel right, say so.
• Be willing to schedule more appointments. You might have a lot of medical needs that cannot all be met in one single appointment. Be willing to prioritize your medical needs and go back to the doctor with your other concerns at a later date.
• Find out the best way to communicate once the appointment is over. After your appointment, you may have additional concerns. Ask your doctor what the best way is to contact them with additional questions. Some doctors might prefer an email, while others may want you to call during specific hours. Either way, ask about contacting them in the future.
Rather than putting your health entirely in the hands of the doctor, take responsibility for your health and become an empowered patient. Empowered patients are more satisfied with their health care, and have better outcomes.
Kyle Hawkey is a student program coordinator for the University of Arizona Yuma. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.