It's common for patients to feel like their relationship with a doctor is hierarchical; the doctor is at the top and the patient is at the bottom. However, this is not the case. Your relationship with your doctor should feel more like a partnership, and honest and straightforward communication is the foundation for any good relationship. The best thing you can do to prepare for your doctor visits is to have as much information on hand as you possibly can and communicate with the doctor honestly.
Here are things you can do in order to be prepared for your doctor visits:
Get Copies of Your Current Medical Records: If this is a first time visit with your doctor, request copies of your medical records from your previous physician. This will save time, allowing your doctor to review your records beforehand. Also make sure you have your insurance card and the phone number of the pharmacy you use.
Make a List of Questions: It's easy to get flustered in the doctor's presence, which can make it difficult to remember questions you want to ask. Therefore, take the time to keep a running list of questions you have during the week leading up to your visit. Your doctor will appreciate your preparedness, and you will appreciate leaving the visit with all of the answers.
Write Down a Detailed List of Symptoms: If you are experiencing any acute symptoms, make sure you document them, including when they started, how long they last, and if there are any triggers you may have noticed. Even small things, like unusual restlessness, lack of appetite, fatigue, or sleeplessness should be noted and mentioned. While it may not seem like a big deal to you, it could be significant for your doctor. For all you know, a simple change in medications will have you feeling normal again.
Write Down All of Your Medications: Speaking of medication, your doctor will want to know every medication you are taking, the dose, and how often. Bring that list with you. Also, include any vitamin, mineral, or herbal supplements you take. This gives your doctor a chance to consider how your medications are working, or aren't working, together to maintain your health.
Consider Your Day-to-Day Life: Your doctor is going to want to know what you do everyday, what you eat, how often you consume alcohol or nicotine products, etc. Always be honest. We all want to say we exercise regularly, eat like a professional nutritionist, and abstain from unhealthy lifestyle habits.
However, if your doctor doesn't know the truth about your lifestyle, he isn't able to provide you with adequate healthcare, recommendations, and treatment. The daily choices you make affect the medications and treatments he prescribes, so you want him to know all the facts.
Sometimes it's good to bring a companion along. An extra set of eyes and ears can help. Don't forget, this is a partnership. Your preparedness, combined with your doctor's expertise, will help you remain as healthy as possible.