Coffee Break

Being Better Prepared For a Doctor’s Visit

Doctors and primary-care physicians only tend to spend an average of fifteen minutes with their patients, according to statistics in the United States. That works out as only a few minutes that you’ll have to discuss each health concern that you have, especially to give the doctor time to check what they need to and write out a prescription, if needed.  

For patients, this will mean that in order to get the most out of your appointment, you do need to be planning and preparing, ready for the appointment. Then you’ll be able to maximize the time that you have with your doctor or medical professional to best help you and get what you need from it. So here are some top tips for making the most of your visits to the doctor’s office.


  • Make a list of any of the questions or concerns that you have prior to the visit. It can be easy to feel rushed when you go for an appointment, and if you combine this with feeling unwell or anxious about what you are going to be talking to them about, then it can mean that you forget some of the things you want to ask of the points that you want to make. So if you have a few things to ask about, then make sure that you focus on them and write them down ahead of time. Then you can make sure that you leave and don’t feel frustrated because you missed something.


  • It can be helpful for all involved to create a journal of any symptoms that you have. Then you can bring this along to your appointment to show how long you have had certain feelings or symptoms. If you are finding that you experience some symptoms regularly, then it helps when you want to discuss these things during your visit. 


  • If you want to bring someone with you for moral support or just help if you are unwell or expecting test results, then it is going to be a good idea to consider bringing someone with you. Not only that, it is not always easy to remember all of the things that you get told at an appointment. If you have a loved one with you on the appointment, then they can be there to remember what was said as well, and can help you to talk through things afterwards. It is important to make sure that you leave the appointment knowing what has been said, understanding what has been said, and any next steps that might be needed.


  • Having your health insurance in place is a must before seeking any medical advice. You don’t want to have to check on things afterwards, and it will make the appointment run much more smoothly if things are already in place. A good idea is to also check that your insurance covers what you are there for. As an example, if you are newly pregnant and going to an appointment with a midwife or gynecologist, you need to make sure that your health insurance has been covered for things relating to pregnancy. 


  • If you aren’t sure about something, then it is a good idea to repeat after the doctor. If the doctor is using something technical words or some medical jargon, then you might be unsure or a little confused about things. So when that happens, don’t worry about asking for some clarification on the subject. It is your health that you are thinking about, by the way, so you need to make sure that you understand exactly what is being said. You could write things down, repeat what they are saying, or just repeating back for clarification, so that they can confirm that you do understand what has been said. 


  • At the end of your doctor visit, it can be a good idea to ask your doctor for a printout of information. It could be referencing the things that describe the diagnosis, or perhaps a health condition. If you’ve had a test done or need to get new medications, then you need to have a clear list of what has happened or what you need to do next. Your doctor is going to be the best source of information, as they know your case personally. So it is better to have something like that to refer to, rather than just looking up things online for some generic information.


Make sure that you are prepared, and it can make a big difference to your overall experience, and hopefully, your health.