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Getting The Most Out Of Your Doctor’s Appointment: Make A List!

By Expert HERWriter
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I recently had a patient I had not seen in two years. We had a lot to catch up on concerning her health but what helped the most were our lists. I keep a mental checklist of questions I always ask patients in order to be updated but I appreciate when they do too. In fact, I’m noticing that more and more of my patients are writing down lists so that they feel just as prepared to have their health goals met.

When you are going to see your doctor, please take note if anything has changed recently. This could include your medication/supplement choices, new or changing symptoms, family history and relationship status. If you’re seeing other doctors, let me know that as well and bring in any lab tests they may have run. Also, write down any questions you might have no matter how small they might feel.

Due to the internet and talk shows, I often hear questions such as, “I recently read…” or “Today on Oprah, she mentioned…” This is important for me because it helps me know what’s important to you. If we’re talking about your headaches but really you want to talk about hormones or painful sex or breast cancer because someone in the family was recently diagnosed, please let us healthcare practitioners know!

Finally, it’s important to bring up that burning question or mention the chronic itch ‘down there’ before we walk out to the check-out desk. I really want to help you and communication is the key. Put those things front and center on your list and have it ready and waiting for us to talk about from the beginning. This way you’ll leave the office much happier and more informed because your goals were addressed right there at the appointment.

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Expert HERWriter

I love the feedback - thank you!

April 27, 2009 - 8:55pm

Dr. Jones,

I could not thank you more for this post. I have always been shy about taking a list in to the doctor. I'm not sure why, because usually I am not a hesitant person at all. And when I have read something on the internet or heard something on Oprah, I think I thought that my question might come off sounding as though I was second-guessing the doctor; or as though I was only interested in it because it was current or trendy; or even perhaps as being a bit of a hypochondriac. I could generally get all my main questions answered but often let the "smaller" questions go, almost as though I had had my "quota" of questions answered. Which seems funny now that I write it out.

So thank you, thank you. You have changed at least one woman's routine -- mine. And I bet the same is true for many who have read your post.

April 10, 2009 - 8:32am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.