Getting the Most From Your Doctor’s Visit by Dr. Sonia Huntley, M.D.

Let’s face it: going to the doctor is not always a pleasant experience, and in fact can be frightening, time consuming and even intimidating.  Here are six ways to make your doctor visits more comfortable and productive.

  1. The first thing to remember is that your health is your most important asset.  While spending time in a doctor’s office may not be your favorite thing to do, it is a necessity and will help you maintain staying healthy and therefore increase your quality of life.


  1. When you feel fearful about the exchange between you and your doctor, try to adopt a practical attitude.  Detach from your feelings: it’s a fact finding visit – it doesn’t have to be an emotional one.  When you can look at it with the right attitude, you will feel less intimidated and more focused on what the appointment is about.


  1. It’s a good idea to take someone with you.  Not only will there be another pair of ears to remember what was said, but you will have your own support system in place during the appointment.  They may also be able to ask the questions that elude you.


  1.     Before you arrive, make a list of problems you want to discuss. 

For example: low back pain, left side, 3 weeks – taking Tylenol or dry itchy patch on

 right cheek for3 months

Make your list precise and short – not too many problems per visit.  Give your list to the medical assistant before you see the doctor.  You will feel more in control of the situation this way and the staff will also be able to help you more efficiently.  Repeating what you have learned before the visit ends will help you remember what took place and allows the doctor to see if further explanation is needed.

  1. Be sure to ask questions and take notes.  Just like the prepared list of problems, you’ll

want your query to be simple and to the point.  Then if you write down what is being said, you can ask for clarification of a term or specific instructions before you leave.  You can also ask for handouts with more information for your specific problem.

  1. It’s a good idea to organize your own medical history.  In an emergency or upon seeing new care providers, you will be able to help track important issues.   Start by listing every medical concern you can recall for the past five years, including past surgeries and medications. For example, you can obtain clinic notes, imaging and tests, lab reports and hospital summaries.


Finally, remember that your health is the number one subject during your visit.  Following these six guidelines will optimize your time with the doctor, and you can continue to focus on what’s most important: you.