How to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointments

Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment feeling confused, wondering what to do next? Like many of us, the fact that you may not have gone to the appointment prepared, nor been completely honest with your physician or caregiver, may have resulted in a less than stellar experience for all parties. To help you get the most out of your next doctor’s appointment, we’ve drafted some easy steps for you to follow in preparation for and during your visit.

Preparing for Your Doctor’s Visits

Before your next appointment, consider taking just a few moments out of your day to prepare for it in advance. This preparation will allow you to make the best use of the often limited time you have with your doctor.

What you should do before visiting the doctor:

  1. Write your questions down beforehand
  2. Drink plenty of water before a physical to ensure you’re hydrated
  3. Eat as you normally would before a checkup

Also, keep in mind what you should not do before visiting the doctor:

  1. Don’t eat a high-fat meal before getting blood drawn
  2. Don’t drink coffee before a blood pressure test
  3. Don’t take cold medicine before a visit (if possible)
  4. Don’t drink alcohol before a cholesterol test

Now that you know how to prepare physically for your appointment follow the list of 5 steps below to really get the most from your visit.

5 Easy Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor Visits

Share Your Symptoms
Think about this beforehand. Consider what has been causing your pain or discomfort. Keep notes before the meeting in reference to frequency, level of pain, areas of discomfort and other important facts. Bring the notes to your visit and be open to our doctor’s question. They are asking for more information to help you. And you being open and honest about your experiences will help your doctor give you the best treatment.

Ask Questions
Prepare a list of questions beforehand as it relates to your visit. Bring those questions with you or email them to your doctor in advance if there are any specific items that may require research on their part. When at the appointment go through your list and make sure your questions are answered or at least asked. If new questions come up, write them down or ask right there in the moment. If you have a friend or loved one with you, they can take notes for you.

Bring a Friend or Loved One
Having someone with you can be valuable in a few ways: as a companion, someone to transport you, someone to be available for difficult conversations, a note taker and much more. Make sure you are comfortable with whoever is there being a part of private conversations. The more they are involved, the more likely they’ll be able to help you after the visit as well.

Bring Your Medication(s)
Depending on the visit you may need to share all of the medications you are currently taking. And depending on the size of the list you can either bring a written list or simply bring the medications themselves. If your visit relates to how you feel when taking a specific medication – you should bring that specific one (and note any others you take at the same time). Also, be mindful of referencing brand names versus generic names when referring to the specific medication you take.

Recap Before You Leave
Don’t leave the visit with questions! Summarize your understanding of next steps at the end and ask the doctor to confirm you are correct. This recap will ensure that you leave with a clear sense of what to do next and reduce anxiety around next steps. Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment if necessary before you leave.

Our Making the Most of your Doctor’s Appointment Checklist will get you organized, help you feel confident and prepare you with important questions and information to consider. Use it before and after your next visit!