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.

Be prepared

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.

Ask questions 

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.

Take notes

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.

Follow up

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.

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a health related question of your own - about your or your family's health, medication or upcoming procedures, for example - you can also access their, "Ask the Expert" service. Available around the clock, 365 days a year this free resource allows you to ask the team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives and pharmacists about any health concerns you may have - whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, every day. Please get in touch now.

Click below to submit your question online.


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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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