Have you ever left a medical appointment feeling dissatisfied because it didn’t seem like you and your doctor were on the same page? It’s happened to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to! Doctors are people, and good communication is a key part of having a satisfying relationship (as well as keeping your health in top shape.)
AARP recently published a list of “7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit” based on advice from doctors themselves, and we thought we’d share a few of their tips.
Be friendly and show interest in your doctor. You don’t have to treat them like your close friend of 30 years, but making friendly conversation and showing interest can go a long way in strengthening the relationship you two have. Laughter (when appropriate) is also a powerful tool in creating an environment of comfort and intimacy.
Speak up. If you raise a question about your health and your doctor doesn’t give you a satisfying answer, ask if he or she can find out more information and follow-up with you later, or if there’s a specialist you could be referred to. In short, do not be afraid to ask for what you need in order to feel more informed or comfortable.
Clarify your priorities. When your doctor suggests a medical procedure or nonemergency, he or she will typically provide you with basic information and perhaps a resource for finding out more, but you need personalized information before you can make a decision. Ask if you can schedule a short follow-up call or email to give you time to do some research, considering factors such as recovery time, whether you’ll be able to continue an activity you love after the procedure and if there are any alternatives to consider. Having another conversation once you’ve had time to research and process will help you make a decision based on what’s important to you.
Find out their preferred method of contact. It can be difficult to reach doctors in between appointments, so ask yours what method works best if you have to reach him or her about an important issue. The more specific they can get, the better—email, voicemail, or leaving a message with a nurse or receptionist? What times of day is he or she typicallyable to call or write back? If you use their preferred method, it may help them get back to you sooner.
Read the full list of tips here.