Written By Andre Nye, MD – Your health is priceless and getting the most out of your doctor’s appointment is very important. There are very few encounters in life that can potentially affect you as profoundly as 30-minutes with your doctor. During this time they may explain a complex health topic. In some cases, they will have more than one to discuss. Your doctor will then outline a plan on how to proceed. One or more therapies will be recommended and may continue for the rest of your life. Yes, this can be overwhelming.
How To Get The Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment?
I always recommend that my patients bring a list of problems they want to discuss. This is always the first objective of the visit. As your doctor, it is vital to understand what is important to you. I spend as much time on these items as possible. This is to ensure each patient has a complete understanding of their concerns. For example, if you have a condition such as hypertension and you are unable to afford the medication. Let your doctor know this immediately. If you tell them, they can find a less expensive option for you. Pharmaceutical companies stopped providing medication samples a long time ago. However, less expensive options that work just as well are available. If cost or side effects are an issue, take the time to speak with your doctor so they can help find a solution.
Understanding Medical Conditions
Most patients with medical conditions have doctors who are attentive and practice the standard of care. However, the patient sometimes has a very limited understanding of their condition and why it is so important to manage. As a result, it is important to make sure your doctor explains the underlying problem and how it affects your overall health. If you do not understand why then you must ask. When it comes to your health, all questions are important.
The meaning of “doctor” in Greek is teacher, and “physician” means natural healer. We use these words synonymously when thinking of our own doctor. When you go to your primary care doctor make sure you leave understanding as much about your health as you can.
Ask Questions During Your Doctor’s Appointment
Try not to leave your doctor’s visit feeling like you have unanswered questions. Sometimes there is so much going on in your medical life you feel overwhelmed. If you feel saturated with information, it is okay to rebook another appointment to complete your understanding and implement a plan moving forward.
The next time you see your primary care doctor make sure you have a list of questions and problems. If language is being used during the visit that you do not understand, stop your doctor and ask them to explain it in a way that you understand. If therapy is being started, have your doctor explain why, and how much is likely to cost. Once again, if you are overwhelmed it is okay to make another doctor’s appointment.
In medical school, we were told that if we could understand 3 concepts in a 1-hour lecture and remember them, both the teacher and the student were doing well. As such when I am working with the patient I have to remember this. Your primary care doctor is a very important resource in your overall health. Ask questions, it may take more than one visit. However, the more you know about your health, the healthier you will live.
Additional Reading: What Should I Ask My Doctor During a Checkup?
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