Research shows that the average doctor visit lasts just about seven minutes, a marked decrease from years past. With such a short time to spend with your doctor, you may find that your needs are not being met and that you are left with unanswered questions. But you can develop some strategies to make sure you get the most out of your medical appointments.
First, be sure to know what is bothering you. Make a list of your symptoms and do some research on them before your appointment. Although there is a tendency to focus on the worst-case scenario, it is helpful to bring up all your concerns about your symptoms at your visit with your doctor. You should also make sure that your medical history is updated with your doctor’s office. If there have been any changes since your last visit, don’t forget to mention them and bring copies of recent test results.
Along with a list of your symptoms, you should think about any questions ahead of time. Doctors tend to ask, “Any questions?” at the end of the visit. If you haven’t had all your questions answered, be sure to ask at this time. It is very frustrating to leave your appointment only to realize that you do indeed have several unanswered questions. Also, be sure to ask your doctor what you should do if your symptoms worsen or change before your next scheduled visit.
Finally, commit to staying focused during your visit. Since you have a limited amount of time to spend with your doctor, don’t use any of that time discussing things unrelated to your condition. It might be nice to talk about your recent vacation or how your kids are doing, but it can cut into valuable diagnostic time. If your life situation is contributing to your symptoms, by all means, bring it up. But otherwise, you are better served with focusing on the issues at hand.
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