How to communicate with your Doctor
Going to the doctor can be intimidating. For some, it’s the fancy plaque hanging on the wall that intimidates them. For others it may be a conflict in personality. Whatever the reason, some patients may leave the office feeling frustrated. They may leave feeling as if they have many questions unanswered. Knowing how to visit your doctor will help relieve your anxiety, as well as will help to get you the answers you want and need.
• Relax – Don’t let the degree on their wall make you nervous. Before you see your doctor, take a deep breath. Try relaxation techniques before you see her if you tend to get nervous. Remember, she’s just a person, too.
• Be on time – Showing up on time for your appointment communicates that you are serious about your health, as well as you respect your doctor’s time. It’s frustrating for the office staff and your doctor when you are late. This may cause them to have to shuffle patients to get you seen. You may also jeopardize your time with your doctor.
• Be Prepared – If your doctor asked you to bring in copies of records or films from another doctor, be sure to come prepared. This way you won’t waste hers or her staff’s time with having to track them down and get them faxed at the time of your visit. Being prepared communicates that you care and are serious about your health.
• Make a list – Take a few minutes to make a list of questions you have for your doctor. Make a copy to give to your doctor and one for yourself. Two copies will allow her to follow along as you go over them. She can also put a copy in your chart to refer to. Keep your questions brief and to-the-point. Remember, you aren’t the only patient she has to see, and is probably on a tight schedule.
• Tape record the visit, or take notes – Take notes. If you don’t write fast, ask her if she’d mind if you recorded the visit. Notes will help you to be able to remember your conversation later when you want, or need to. It will also prevent you from having to bother her or her staff later, by calling to ask questions later.
• Be respectful – Being respectful to your doctor, even if you don’t agree with her findings or answers, shows that you respect her as a person, and as a physician. Doctors don’t always know everything. If you hear something you don’t agree with, tell her in a respectful way.
• Let her know you’re getting a second opinion – If you decide to get a second opinion, out of respect, let your physician know. You can also share the name of the other physician you’ll be seeing. The two physicians may decide to confer about your case. Telling your doctor will not only make you look smart, but will show your doctor that you care about your health. Your physician will respect you for having the second opinion as well as for telling her.
Knowing how to communicate and interact with your physician will not only show that you care about her, but your health, too. Good communication will also encourage her to listen to you well, and to treat you respectfully. This, in turn, will help you feel less anxious about seeing her, as well as can help you build a good relationship with your doctor.
By Maria McCutchen