If you’re anything like me, you hate going to the doctor. The procedures and tests are bad enough, but what’s really frustrating is going there, waiting for an hour, and then realizing that you completely forgot to ask the doctor about that one issue that’s been bothering you for weeks.
To make matters worse, the average doctor’s visit is 15 minutes long, barely enough time to address anything.
People are often too busy dealing with all of the peripheral issues of a doctor’s appointment to actually engage their physician. It seems strange, but getting your medical issued addressed usually comes in second to all of the other inconveniences of going to the doctor.
Rushing to be there on time and filling out endless paperwork are stressful and distracting, and too often we leave the doctor’s office unsatisfied and with questions.
Recently I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be that way. Below is a short list of things that you can do to ensure your next doctor’s visit is actually productive and informative.
I have the unfortunate habit of thinking that my health issues have been resolved because I’m not feeling any pain or illness at the moment. Too many times I’ve said, “Oh, that searing pain in my abdomen has temporarily stopped? It must have worked itself out!”
I should know better, and if you’re like me, you should know better as well. Out of sight, out of mind might work for your chores, but not for your medical problems.
A little preparation for your visit can literally save you a headache in the long run. Coming to the doctor’s office with a list of your problems, along with the medications and supplements you’re taking, is an excellent way of making sure all of your issues are going to be addressed.
It’s remarkable how much you’ll remember when you take the time to sit down and record all the medical problems you’ve been having. With the help of a list, it’s easy to remember what you came for, even when you’re flustered.
It’s also to your benefit to come to your appointment with a detailed and updated medical history handy. Whether it’s digital or hand written, having a detailed medical history will help your doctor understand your issues better.
Have you been treated for this issue before? When? What was prescribed? These are the questions that will help your doctor avoid a misdiagnosis, which means you can actually get your issues resolved.
Know your P.A.C.E.
Ohio State University researchers have put together a short protocol that serves as a guide to organizing your thoughts and making sure you get the information you need out of each visit. They call it PACE, and it’s a very useful guide for helping you express your needs to your doctor.
You could fill a lake with what I don’t know about medicine, but the PACE guide helps me (and anyone like me for that matter) to understand my condition. Here is what PACE stands for:
- P rovide information about how you feel
- A sk questions if you don’t have enough info.
- C larify what you hear.
- E xpress any concerns you may have.
Following the above guide will help you to organize your thoughts and allow you to fully understand what you’ve been told. Doctors sometimes get caught up in jargon and industry terms, and using the PACE guide will allow you to make sure things are clear.
It is extremely important to ask your doctor questions. Medicine is a respected and venerated profession, and sometimes that makes us a little reticent to question a doctor. However, asking your doctor to clarify their statements, or asking them if they’ve considered all of your symptoms, is a necessary part of getting the most out of your appointment.
I’ve been guilty of stifling some concerns and questions I had because I assumed the doctor had already thought of that, and I have always regretted it later. Doctors are people, and people make mistakes.
Don’t be afraid of seeming pushy or uncooperative. Doctors would much rather clarify things with you at the moment than have you suffer later.
I hope that keeping these 3 things in mind when you go to the doctor will help you get the most from an appointment with your physician. I know that once I started to really prepare for my doctor’s appointments I started to feel like I was taking proactive steps to managing my health and not just waiting for something bad to happen. That’s all for now. Stay healthy!