How to Chat With Your Doctor

It seems we spend more time in the waiting room than actually interacting with our doctors. That’s why as patients we must consolidate as much information as possible and leave out unnecessary details. Given the prevalence of health data trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone, it is critical that we focus on important symptoms and side effects.

Preparing before your visit: Make a list of questions and concerns. Bring the list with you and check them off as you go. Don’t be afraid to let your doctor know you have a list of questions. Healthcare providers appreciate organized patients, they want to know your concerns. If you have any potential medications you want to discuss, research them and print out any info that might be valuable during your visit. Consult other patients if they have given you suggestions. This was my best resource before deciding to use Rituxan.

During your visit: If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. If you think you might have questions after your visit, ask your doctor if you can e-mail them or a member of the staff to clarify concerns. It also might be a good idea to have a friend or family member come with you. A second set of ears can help guide the discussion and cover anything you might have missed. Make sure you let your doctor know if you are having complications or side effects that are hindering your daily life. If you don’t speak up, your doctor won’t know!

Don’t be intimidated talking to your doctor. Be yourself! They are there to help and provide guidance. 

After your visit: Review your notes and follow up with the office if you have any concerns. It is time to discuss the visit with family members and friends who you feel comfortable discussing health issues with. It is also important to update your other healthcare providers of what your doctor has said, especially if they’re all working together. Communication is key!

Bottom line, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. They are there to help you manage your health. That being said, it is important to be an informed and empowered patient. The more you know and become involved with your care, the better off you will be.

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