Don’t understand your doctor? Here’s some tips to have a more productive appointment with your health care provider.
It’s not unusual for people to go to a doctor’s appointment and come back not understanding anything that was explained to them or what they’re supposed to do to get better. Maybe you got a prescription but you’re not really sure why you’re taking it and you have a side effect and you just stop.
So what can you do to try to understand what your doctor is trying to tell you?
In my experience, most nurse practitioners tend to explain things in a way that most people are going to understand. While doctors who are super specialists tend to not always have the best communication skills. So, you may need to ask questions of their nurse to understand what’s going on.
Here are some tips to have a more effective appointment with your doctor:
Bring in a list of your concerns.
Write it down so you don’t forget. Now make sure you schedule enough time to go over your list of concerns and be sure to prioritize your list of concerns in order of importance. If you only have a 15-minute appointment and you have a 10-point list, there’s no way your doctor is going to be able to go over all that. Be sure you emphasize the most important two or three things you need to talk to your doctor about.
Record your visit.
Take notes or actually ask permission to record the visit. Sometimes it helps to bring a support person with you so they can listen to what the doctor is saying as well. And maybe take notes for you and help you to understand what the doctor is assessing, and what the therapeutic plan is.
Be sure to get clarification on everything. Why am I being prescribed this drug? What is it supposed to do? What side effects might I feel? How am I supposed to take this?
Don’t leave without clarity on your therapeutic plan.
What is the next step in the plan?
When do I follow up again?
What does this mean in my bloodwork and what must I do to make a change in my diet, exercise, and sleep?
Do your research.
It’s okay to Google what you think is going on. But be careful because not all sources are created equally. Some doctors, and justifiably so, will get offended when you bring in online information. Remember, if you put enough symptoms into Google, it may seem like you have all kinds of diseases that you probably don’t have.
On the other hand, I appreciate it when my patients do their research and allow me to critique it – to be sure it’s legitimate. Sometimes it’s something that’s really interesting. Oftentimes, it’s something that’s not research-based, and so I will research it to see if there is some science behind the theory. I appreciate their efforts to figure things out for themselves and that they respect my expertise.
Respect their expertise.
Remember, you’re consulting with an expert most likely with an expertise you don’t have. So, receive their information but that doesn’t mean you have to follow everything. If your intuition is telling you this that it doesn’t feel right, of course, get a second opinion.
Remember the goal is to partner with your healthcare provider.
You need to be empowered to do so. This means you need to speak up for yourself and report back to your healthcare provider what’s going on, either in person, on a phone call, or by email. Don’t expect your healthcare provider to answer all the emails personally but do expect that their assistant will bring to their attention your concerns. And expect to have a visit, even a telehealth visit, to get guidance from your healthcare provider.
If you have any questions on how to best partner with your healthcare provider, please join me in our Hormone Support Group. You’ll get access by signing up for my free Hormone Reboot Training.
I don’t want to see my patients suffering in between appointments. So I expect them to report what’s happening with our mutually agreed upon therapeutic plan. My goal is to help them learn how to take care of their bodies, and that should be your healthcare provider’s goal. too.