How to talk to my doctor – Five points to prepare before talking to your doctor
For many people talking with a doctor is not easy; at times just the thought of talking with a doctor can cause some people to experience some negative feelings. Communicating with your doctor is a very important part of your health care. Many patients hesitate to ask their doctor questions for some kind of a fear or been afraid to sound ignorant. As a result the doctor is calling all the shots and the doctor/physician-patient relationship can be damaged. If you want to take part in the decision-making process, you must speak up.
Before you talk with your doctor take 10 or 15 minutes to identify how you feel talking to the doctor. It may be that your emotions will influence the conversation or may determine whether you actually speak with your doctor. To prepare you can ask yourself a few questions or invite a friend to consider these questions with you: Am I anxious? If I anxious, why? Am I upset with the doctor, myself or someone else? If I am upset, why? Do I lack confidence in the doctor or the recommendations?
Once you have identified your feelings then how to talk to the doctor is only a matter of preparation. Remember doctors are people too; so you may want to begin with a positive statement. For example, “Thank you for the time you invest in my treatment.”
- List your concerns, current medications, or over-the-counter and herbal remedies.
- Describe your symptoms, when they started, when you experience them most and what makes them better
- Have a trusted friend or family member present
- Take notes or ask a friend or family member to take notes. Alternatively, you can ask the doctor to write down the things he or she wants you to do
- Be sure to initiate the dialogue even if your doctor doesn’t come right out and ask.
Because time will be a factor for you and the doctor, it’s best to list your top two or three concerns before the visit. Be honest about the things you do that could put your health at risk such as compliance with medications, drinking, smoking, food choices and exercise. Before the visit ends you could ask, “What else can I do to take more responsibility in our partnership?”