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It's Your Health—Be an Expert

It's Your Health—Be an Expert

Learn to make the most of your doctor's appointments.

A good working partnership with your doctor is key to getting the most appropriate care for your health needs. But the patient-doctor relationship isn't always what it could, or should, be.

People tend to go to the doctor when they're unwell and not at their physical or emotional best. Understandably, for many, having an intimate examination is an unnerving experience. So, it's no wonder the balance of power always seems to weigh in favor of the person wearing the white coat.

But remember: You're the expert on you. Be an active partner in your healthcare. Start with these simple steps:

Before your appointment
Make the most of your time with your doctor by being prepared for your appointment. Beforehand, think about questions or concerns you'd like to cover at your appointment and write them down. Also, jot down a list of:

  • Symptoms you're experiencing or anything you've noticed that's out of the ordinary for you
  • Medications and supplements you're taking
  • Alternative therapies you're using, such as herbal remedies or acupuncture

Take your lists with you and share them with your doctor.

During your appointment
Take notes. Many people feel a little nervous at the doctor's office, and that's normal. But afterwards, you may find it difficult to remember exactly what was said. So, ask your doctor to recap at the end of the appointment, and take your notes then. If there are technical terms you don't understand, ask for an explanation.

Another option is to bring a close friend or relative with you. Some people find it helpful to have someone else hear and remember what the doctor says.

A friend can take notes, help you recall questions you intended to ask and offer support, should you need it. But remember: a doctor's appointment can be very personal, so choose your companion carefully.

After your appointment
Follow up. Don't be shy about calling your doctor if you have questions between appointments or if you're waiting for test results.

And keep your own records. Make a note of the dates and results of health screenings, vaccinations, procedures, surgeries and regular checkups and keep them together for easy access when you need them.

Being actively involved in your healthcare is good for your health. It's that simple. Start now.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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