Did you know there are about 4,400 monthly searches on Google on “how to talk to your doctor?”
If I created a blog post on this topic a few years ago, I would have shared very different information than what I’m about to share with you today.
There were so many years when I went in for a check-up or procedure and basically let the doctor control our conversation.
The doctor would nod, take notes, order a blood test or give me a prescription and be on his/her way.
This is not the best use of your or your doctor’s time.
Since time spent with doctors is decreasing and healthcare costs are rising, you want to come in fully prepared before your appointment day arrives.
If you agree or have other tips to share, please leave a comment!
Here are my top 5 tips on how to talk to a doctor:
- Using the camera on your mobile phone, take a photo of the label of each prescription drug you’re taking. If you don’t have a camera, carry the prescription bottles with you to your appointment. The reason why you need to do this is because your doctor will ask you if you’re taking any medicine and she’ll also ask what your dosages are. Drug names are complicated and dosages are, too. Don’t force yourself to remember these things, especially when you’re under the stress of being in a doctor’s office.
- Write down a list of all of your symptoms before arriving at your doctor’s appointment. You need to be prepared ahead of time so you don’t stress out and forget what’s wrong with you as you’re talking to your doctor. People become incredibly absent minded when they’re in the presence of someone they consider an authority figure.
- Bring a friend or loved one with you. If you are visiting a doctor because you have a serious medical condition or need a serious medical procedure, you should absolutely bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment. When conversations between patients and doctors create a sense of fear in the patient, the patient will begin to worry and feel anxious. This worry and anxiety makes the patient lose his or her ability to focus, concentrate, or stay present. That’s why it’s important to have a third party listener who can advocate for the patient and take notes.
- Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with your doctor rather than just sit there listening. Whether you have gone to your doctor a number of times about the same symptom or you read something online that sounds like a better treatment than what your doctor is offering, speak up. Your doctor cannot read your mind, so tell him or her what you read or what you’re experiencing. They may be able to refer you to a specialist or tell you that what you read online is complete garbage. By the way, 8 times out of ten, I would listen to my doctor over something I’ve read on the internet.
- Challenge your doctor. If you’ve tried working with your doctor on the same issue, using a number of different techniques, tell them you want to do something that’s a bit off the beaten path. What does this mean? It means that if you’ve been given a number of different drugs to treat a certain problem, but nothing is working, it’s time to tell your doctor you want them to monitor you while you try a more holistic approach or something of that nature. If nothing else seems to be working, it’s worth testing a new treatment method. For example, people with thalassemia have fragile bones. To treat the problem, we’re often given drugs made for 90 year old women with osteoporosis. These drugs typically do not help us and since there is no doctor on the planet who seems to be able to figure out how to treat our problems, a more holistic approach through diet, vitamins, and weight-bearing exercise is a good alternative that should be brought to light.
One extra bonus item that you might want to take note of is that you should keep a list of important procedures you’ve had done in the past. Important procedures can be defined as x-rays, MRIs, surgeries (at any point in your life), heart exams or any other technical procedure. You will need this for the intake form that your doctor will ask you to fill out before he or she meets with you.
If you know someone who is stressed out about his or her next doctor appointment, share this with him or her.