Plenty of us have left the doctor’s office and suddenly realized there was a symptom you forgot to mention or a question you didn’t ask during your visit. We all know that it can be hard to remember everything you wanted to discuss.
By simply being prepared for a doctor’s appointment you can ensure that you’ll get the most out of your face time with your doctor. Organization is key for an effective doctor’s visit. Here are a few tips to help you better prepare.
1. Set a Goal for the Appointment
Decide what you want to get out of your doctor’s visit.
Is the appointment a well visit, a preventive checkup, or a follow-up?
Are you in search of a diagnosis that puts a name to your symptoms?
Do you need a new treatment plan or want to change what you’re currently doing?
Would you like to discuss your prognosis: What may happen to you? What could the future bring?
Are you seeking reassurance or help dealing with feelings?
2. Bring Your Medical Information
Jot down a detailed medical history of your own health, and of your immediate blood relatives.
Create a list of any medications you’re currently taking. Don’t just count prescriptions and over-the-counter, let your doctor know if you are taking natural or herbal supplements as well. Be sure to note doses and frequency.
3. Know Your Symptoms
Keep track of your symptoms so that you can accurately describe them to your doctor. You should make note of when the symptoms started and what they feel and look like. (Some good descriptors to consider: achy, burning, stabbing, dull, stiff, tingly, sore, annoying, crushing, red, swollen, oozing)
Be able to describe how much pain are you in – on a scale from 1 to 10, or on a happy face chart (we know you remember that!.
Note if there is anything specific that seems to trigger your symptoms.
Your doctor should also know how often your symptoms occur, how long they last and what, if anything, makes them start to feel better?
4. Write Down Specific Questions
You certainly don’t want to forget to ask important questions you may have. Having a hard time coming up with any? You should probably know if you are going to need any tests done, what your condition is and how you can best treat it.
5. Have a Contact List
Make a list of name and phone numbers for your emergency contacts. Also make note of all doctors who treat you and why, plus their contact information. You should also include your pharmacy of preference if you have one.
6. Document What You Learn
Bring a notebook or use your phone to take down notes during your doctor’s visit. You went there to get your questions answered, so you should make sure you remember the answers! If you need some additional support, consider bringing someone with you. While some people like going to the doctor solo, others find it comforting to have a friend or loved one near so they can truly focus on everything the doctor is explaining.