Talking to your doctor more effectively
When you arrive at your doctor’s surgery, you’re often likely to be in pain, distracted and worried – so it’s little wonder that it can sometimes be difficult to get your concerns across.
Doctors have to see hundreds of patients every week and while they want to give you the best service possible, they’re not mind readers. Learn how to have more productive conversations with your doctor and be confident you’re able to discuss and address your concerns.
For a more productive visit, take a little time before your appointment to think about everything you want to talk about. Make a list of your symptoms and write down any medical history that could be relevant. You should also make a note of your current medications (and their side effects!) and any important changes that are happening in your life right now.
Bear in mind that most normal doctor’s appointments are only 10 minutes long. If you have a lot to talk about, it might be worth asking the receptionist to book you in where there is a space for as double appointment – that way you’re less likely to feel time pressured.
Every time the doctor says something you don’t fully understand, be sure to ask them to explain. Don’t be afraid to speak up and never worry about sounding silly. Your doctor spent many years training to become a medical professional, they won’t expect you to know or understand everything immediately.
If your doctor doesn’t have time to talk to you about everything you have questions about, ask if you can see a nurse or other health care provider who might be able to help you find the information or reassurance you need.
If possible, write down any important information you doctor gives you. It can be hard to absorb a lot of new information at once and easy to forget the names of specific conditions or symptoms at the time.
You may not be able to get everything down but even a few notes will be handy. You can also ask your doctor whether they have any relevant leaflets or fact sheets that you can take home and read at your leisure.
Your doctor may prescribe tests, a follow up appointment or some new medicine – make sure you heed their advice. Contact your doctor’s surgery if you are unsure about your follow up instructions and make a further appointment if you’ve been advised to do so.
Otherwise, keep an eye on your symptoms and book another visit if they worsen or do not respond as your doctor expected. Your doctor wants to give you the very best care available help them by making every appointment as productive as possible.
Silversurfer's Assistant Editor
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