Getting the Most Out of Your Visit to the Doctor
Here are some tips for how to get the most out of your visit to the doctor
- Know your goals ahead of time. Determine what you want to get out of a particular visit, as each doctor visit may have a different purpose. For example, ask yourself, are you not feeling well? Are you looking for a diagnosis? Are you in need of a referral to a specialist? Whether you are at the doctor because you don't feel well or this is your annual exam, knowing why you're there and what you wish to accomplish during the visit will help you to leave with the information or tests you need.
- Prepare a list detailing any questions that you may have. People often get overwhelmed at the doctor's office. Because the amount of time the doctor spends with the patient is limited, it's important to make sure that your voice is heard and that you get answers to the questions you have. Planning ahead and writing down your questions will also help remind you to ask them once you are with the doctor. Having a list can also help you to steer the direction of the conversation. Prioritize your questions and ask the most important ones first in case you don't have time to ask them all.
- Bring a list of all the medications you’re currently taking, including vitamins, supplements and over–the–counter medications.
If it's easier, bring the actual medication bottles in a plastic bag. Sometimes medications and supplements can interact with one another in different ways. A primary care physician may not know what a specialist has prescribed you and vice–versa. By bringing these medications or a list of them with you to your visit, the doctor you're seeing will know everything that you are taking. This will be helpful when prescribing new medications or making adjustments to your current medications.
- Bring a copy of all recent test results that you have had done.
For example, did you get an x-ray or blood test done in a laboratory or hospital? Rather than assume that the doctor has already seen these results, bring along a copy to be sure! Did you know that at KEEP screenings you can request that a copy of your screening results be sent to multiple doctors? All you need to do is bring your doctor's contact information with you on the day of the event.
- Invite a friend, family member or advocate that you trust to come with you to your appointment.
This person can help take notes for you during the doctor appointment. They can also offer support by reminding you to ask the questions on your list or adding some additional questions that you might not have thought about beforehand.
- Take notes during the visit.
During the appointment, take notes about what you're discussing. Clarify what you've heard by repeating it back to the doctor. This is one way to confirm that you understand what the doctor is telling you and that you are both on the same page. If you do not understand the doctor's explanation, ask him or her to further break down the information for you. After you have discussed a condition with your doctor, ask for written materials, brochures or pamphlets regarding the diagnoses you have discussed during your appointment. For example, you may have talked about a health condition and then realized it was difficult to spell. Ask your doctor or nurse for additional information so that you can continue to process the information and educate yourself after having left the doctor's office.
Did you know that the National Kidney Foundation has numerous brochures on a variety of different topics related to CKD, CVD, high blood pressure, diabetes and the way your kidneys work? Perhaps you picked some up at your recent KEEP screening. If not, you can call the National Kidney Foundation at 800.622.9010 or visit the National Kidney Foundation website www.kidney.org/store.