How to get the most out of your doctor visit

Being prepared will help make sure your needs are met.

March 4, 2020


Being prepared for your doctor visit is one of the most important ways to make the most of your time together. So before you go to your doctor’s office, plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you organize your thoughts.

Make a list and prioritize it

It’s easy to forget what you want to talk about once you’re meeting with your doctor. That’s why making a list is a good idea. Also, be sure to prioritize your list. That way, you’ll be sure to focus on the most important items first.

If there’s time, you can also talk about lower-priority issues or make a plan to take care of them later. Tell the person who schedules your visit if you have more than one big issue to talk about. If you have forms to complete, mention that, too.

If you’re worried about something say so

Often patients are worried that they have a certain condition, or they have an idea of what’s going on. Knowing these concerns is helpful to your doctor. Sometimes they lead to a diagnosis. Other times your doctor will know right away that your fears are unfounded.

For example, patients with headaches often fear they have a brain tumor. Your doctor can’t help, if you don’t speak up. So don’t be shy. Talk with your doctor. That way, he or she can find out what’s really going on.

Let us know if you have a specific request

Sometimes patients want a certain treatment or test. While your doctor can’t always say yes, it’s helpful to know what it is you want and why. Then he or she can figure out how best to help you.

Know your medications

If you take medications, make sure you know the name of the medication, dose and how often you take it. If you take more than one or two medications, bring a list that includes all this information.

Checking your medication record with your doctor is important. It’s an easy way to correct mistakes and help you manage your medications. If it’s helpful, a medication record can help you keep track of the medications and supplements that you take.

Let us know what’s happening in your life

If you’ve had a major life event, tell your doctor. Deaths in the family, marriages, kids going off to college or ill elderly parents all affect your health and well-being. Knowing what’s going on helps your doctor provide the best care.

Pre-visit checklist

Take time to answer these questions and any others you might have before your visit:

  •  What’s the main reason for your visit today?
  • Do you have any other concerns you’d like to talk about?
  • What are your goals for today’s visit?

Be prepared to share your story. Instead of just stating the problem, provide details about it, including:

  • When did it start?
  • Are you having other symptoms?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • What do you think the problem is?
  • What concerns do you have about the problem?

Other visit needs:

  • Prescription refills
  • Referral
  • Lab tests or results
  • Help filling out certain medical forms
  • Other
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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.