How to Prepare for a doctor's visit

My best tips for getting the most out of your doctor's visit:

I like to have the mindset that I’m the employer who is hiring a consultant to help me manage my health.  It takes doctors off of a pedestal and turns them into peers. After all, you’re paying them for a service.  Make them earn their money and be accountable.

Arrive prepared for the appointment to be your own advocate:

Take a pen and a notebook so that you can take notes during the appointment.  If the doctor will allow you to voice record the appointment I would do that too but ask their permission.  This will allow you to listen to the appointment when you get home.  If there’s jargon she uses that you’re not sure of it will allow you to google it. If not, try to take notes as though you’re in a lecture.  The more you can educate yourself about your body and your health the better the outcome you’ll have from all of this.  It’s super important to get your head in the game.  You are your own best advocate.

Organize your medical history:

I would type up notes to print out and take with you to the appointment.  This keeps you focused and allows you to run the appointment the way you see fit.  Not all doctors like empowered patients.  You many encounter sighing, eye-rolling, patronizing tones (yes, I’ve encountered it all).  IGNORE it!  It’s their own insecurity and ego at play.  Always remember you’re the boss of your body.  They are the hired consultant.

Having an agenda will help you maximize your time with the doctor:

Use your notebook to answer these 8 questions:

1. In a few sentences: What is your goal for the appointment?  Why are you there?
2. What are the symptoms you’ve been experiencing?  Ex: On x date, I experienced x symptom.  Create bullet points and write out all symptoms.   Were that medically diagnosed or just a hunch?  It’s important to be clear.
3. List out the doctor’s appointments you’ve been to so far this year in chronological order and then present the labs from each doctor.  Briefly summarize what each doctor told you and any medications or surgery they prescribed to you.
4. Gather together all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs, you take and put them in a bag and take them with you on the day of the appointment. Show the doctor.
5. Write out any questions or concerns you want to be answered in the appointment.
6. If the doctor prescribes you any medications make them justify why it’s necessary.  Ask if they are financially incentivized to prescribe the drug.  Then ask if there is any lifestyle intervention that can be done instead.  If not, how long do they think you need to take the drug?  What is the expected outcome of introducing the drug?
7. If the doctor wants labs or tests done ask them when you can expect to hear back with results and the name and phone number of the contact person that you can be in touch with for follow up.
8. At the close of the appointment make sure you and the doctor are very clear on what the next steps are and have spelled out the timeline for what is to come next.
This may seem like a lot but I assure you when you arrive prepared the appointment will go so much more smoothly.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.