Heading to the doctor for an appointment? We have some top tips to make the experience as easy and effective as possible for doctor and you!
Arrive early – going to a medical appointment can be stressful enough, why add to your stress with feeling hurried and harried? Arriving ahead of time gives you space to settle in, to arrive, and to review what you want to say before heading in to your consultation. It’s also useful if you are having any checks like blood pressure as running in stressed will not lend itself to accurate results!
Ask the awkward question – if you are scared about something, it’s better said. The doctor can’t meet your needs or address your fears if they aren’t aware of them. It makes their job easier if you say what’s truly on your mind. You won’t make them feel awkward – it’s their job – and you’ll soon feel better once the problem is addressed.
Think detective – in a time-limited situation like an appointment it can be hard to get your thoughts in order and remember details. So take some time before you go to your appointment to think about what the doctor might ask and what your answers will be. If you have a pain the doctor may ask some common questions like how long you’ve had the pain, whether it’s constant or intermittent, where it is, what makes it better or worse and what it feels like e.g stabbing, pulling, aching, sharp, dull etc.
Take a postcard – if you have more than one concern, you may want to write them down. But pulling out a big list (or a big notebook which will indicate a big list) may put the appointment on the wrong foot. Appointments running over time is a big problem and taking care to keep within the limits shows respect for your physician and the other patients. What to do? Write your queries in bullet points on a postcard. You could also ask the doctor if any routine medical tests are due – blood pressure, cholesterol, smear test, screening – and book them in!
Leave Wikipedia at Home – Taking printed material from the Internet is another faux pas. I know you are the expert in you but the Internet isn’t and it can be a bit insulting: Q: Why did the doctor bother going to medical school if you can get the answers from Google? A: You can’t get the answers from Google, that’s why you are at the doctor! Instead, if you need to, mention you read X on Y site and wanted to ask an expert about it. When online, check out reputable websites like NHS Symptom Checker and Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library or Medline Plus.
Be prepared – if you think you might require a gynaecological examination booking an appointment that doesn’t coincide with your period might be helpful – ask the nurse or receptionist at your practice when booking. If you have an intermittent rash, it might be helpful to take a photograph on your smart phone to show the doctor in case it’s not there when you are in the appointment.
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