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Doctors are busy these days, making our visits with them about 7 minutes long. When we’re sitting in the exam room with them it’s common to feel rushed and the minute we get home we think of a list of questions we wanted to ask. It’s a good idea to be prepared with a list of questions and anything else you want to know. Here is a list of tips of how you can best prepare for a visit with your doctor:
Do Your Homework. Many doctors tell you not to google your symptoms, but it’s a good idea go to online and look at what your symptoms could mean. There will also be statements from people who are experiencing similar things who may have already gone to see their doctor. Write down any questions or concerns you have to you can talk to your doctor about and he/she can help you rule out the worst case scenarios. Research is a good thing and helps you to become more informed as a patient. Plus, after talking it out with your doctor your research skills will be even sharper.
Know Your Medical History. It’s a good idea to carry a record of your medical history with you. If you have a smart phone there are some great apps you can download that will securely store your health data. Make sure your records are up to date, you can ask any of your doctors for the information you need. If you’ve had any conditions in the past, those are also important to have documented. Bringing resources like this will help your doctor add context to your conditions.
Keep Tabs On Yourself. It is important to be as accurate as possible when discussing your current systems, so document them. If you had a fever, write down when it was at its highest. If you developed a rash, keep a log of the progression or digression of it. This information will be extremely valuable during that 7 minute time slot you get to spend with your doctor. Smart phones have electronic diary apps for you to record things like this, which makes it easy not to forget the information at home when you’re on the go. You may also want to take pictures of rashes or other skin ailments you have. Keep the information short, but informative. Think bullets, not novels. Keep track of how you are feeling and how your symptoms have affected your everyday life.
Stay Focused. Have a list ready of important issues you need to talk about and try not to digress. When you are discussing symptoms with your doctor, they listen carefully to look for clues that may give them a better idea about your diagnosis. This triggers them to ask you a series of questions to get the answers you need. By staying focused and answering questions thoroughly you will make your doctor’s job easier and you will get your answers more quickly.
Double Check. Visits may be quick, but there is a whole lot of information that should be exchanged in that 7 minutes. If your doctor gives you instructions, ask him/her for a printed copy. If you are not 100% clear of what you should be doing, ask your doctor to sit with you and explain the instructions again until you are clear. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially about treatment. This will help you learn and help your doctor to understand your comfort level. Once you have a treatment and a diagnosis, get back to your research and repeat steps one-five to prepare for your next visit!