Say Ahhh: 3 Steps to Master Your Doctor Visit.
OK, so who here loves going to see their doctors?!
Yeaaah, me neither. But it’s a necessity of adult life, regardless if you need routine visits or just occasional check-ups. Look, here’s the way I see it – if I’m going to take valuable time out my day to visit my doctor, it better be worthwhile! So let’s talk business and learn how to seize the moment.
Here’s the breakdown of how I handle all my doctor visits. Plus a [handy, printable checklist] to assist you along the way!
1. Arrive prepared with a written list of all your recent medical information.
Prior to my visit, in addition to packing my ID and insurance information, I create a list of the following:
- My current medications and supplements (name of drug, dosage, how often + estimated start date)
- Drug allergies
- Dates of big surgeries and diagnoses
Always bring this in case the physician or nurse asks for such information (it's hard to remember on the spot).
[Chronic Illness Tip]: With my [Crohn's Disease], I also keep a small diary of my symptoms between visits. This journaling can be as simple as a list in the notes app on your phone. If you’re seeing a dietitian, the diary can also include a general rundown of foods you regularly eat.
[First Time Patient Tip]: If this is your first time seeing a new doctor, I suggest bringing the above information PLUS any past medical records you may have at home (ie: blood test and imaging results, immunizations or family medical history). Don’t keep a file? No sweat. But, moving forward, try starting a home health binder. Here you can organize and safely store all new information to ensure future first time visits are a breeze. P.S. - If you’re seeing a doctor for a chronic illness, they LOVE to glance through paperwork like this.
2. Be direct + concise during your appointment. This is your meeting and your health!
I run my doctor appointments like they’re business meetings. Because they are! It’s my personal business.
- Bring a list of what you want to discuss and take notes throughout the appointment.
- Be honest with your physician. I promise you’re safe. Your doctor has heard it before, and he/she will hear it again. Additionally, if you’ve taken any illegal drugs, list them. It’s confidential and they could have a large impact on how your doctor decides to treat you. The less honest you are, the less your treatment can be tailored to fit you. We want this to run efficiently and safely, right?
3. After the meeting, set yourself up for future success.
This step is easy:
- Schedule your follow-up right there in the office; otherwise it just becomes an annoying task for later. Jot that date down into your planner.
- [Bonus Tip]: Want your appointment to run on time? Pick either the first time slot of the day or the first one after lunch.
- Ask what is the best way to contact the office and save those numbers into your phone. I like to put the pill or ambulance emoji next to all my medical contacts for easy, fun organization.
- Take whatever notes or records you received from the meeting and file them in a safe place (aka that new medical binder you’ve started)! Now you can quickly access them for next time.
For a while, I used to see doctor’s appointments as chores. Sometimes I was even scared of them! But they’re really just opportunities to improve upon yourself – they assist you in learning more about your body and arm you with information so you can confidently take control of your health. Time to put it into practice! Here’s a printable checklist on all the information above. [CLICK ME!]
You got this! And good luck at your next visit!
DISCLAIMER: Although I am in the process of earning my RD license, the content of this website is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek guidance and the final word from a practicing professional. This is merely a place to share my personal experience and anecdotal advice. Cheers!