How to Get More from Your Doctor Appointments

| September 20, 2017 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

10 Dos & Don’ts for Being an Informed Patient

Even the healthiest of us can get a little nervous in the doctor’s office. As a result, we sometimes forget the very questions we came to ask or leave without fully understanding what the doctor just advised us to do.

On top of it, doctor appointments are fairly short. The majority of doctors report spending 15 minutes or less per patient. As patients, it’s up to each of us to make sure that time is well spent.

With that in mind, here are 10 patient dos and don’ts for squeezing the most value from those precious minutes with your doctor.

  1. DO come prepared. Write down your questions in advance. If you’re on medication, bring a current list of your medications and dosages with you.
  2. DO be specific describing any symptoms you’re experiencing and what you want your doctor to address.
  3. DON’T hold back about your symptoms or worries; doctors have seen everything. But they can’t help you deal with a problem if they don’t know about it.
  4. DO be respectful of your doctor’s time. Stay on point. Unless the doctor specifically asks you, this is not the place to chat about your family, job, pets, etc.
  5. DON’T be afraid to ask questions. If something doesn’t make sense to you or the doctor uses a term you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
  6. DO let the doctor know when you want more information. Ask your doctor to recommend credible sources or websites where you can learn more about your condition or medication.
  7. DO write everything down during your visit. If you need help, consider bringing a family member with you to take notes.
  8. DO ask for more specific direction if needed. If your doctor mentions several options, it’s fine to ask him/her what he or she would advise their own parent, spouse or sibling to do.
  9. DO thank the doctor and the staff for their time.
  10. If you realize later than you still need more direction, DO call the doctor’s office after you get home.

And DO plan on following your doctor’s recommendations, whatever they are, in the days following your appointment. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your time as well as your doctor’s!

About the Author 

Teri Dreher, RN, CCRN, and iRNPA, is an author and award-winning RN patient advocate. A critical care nurse for more than 30 years, today she is owner/founder of NShore Patient Advocates (, the largest advocacy firm in the Chicago area. A pioneer in the growing field of private patient advocacy, she recently published her first book, “Patient Advocacy Matters.”  



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