The Clinic Visit: Four tips for a Successful Interview

by Harijan

Clinic visits are stressful. Here are four tips to help you get the most out of your ever-shortening visit with your doctor.

1. Prepare to be organized

Your visit starts on the night before your clinic visit. Have all the necessary information with you. This may mean checking your medication list or bottles. Do you need refills? Write them down. Do you keep a daily record of blood pressure, blood sugar levels or symptoms? Make sure it’s in your purse or bag with your house keys and wallet. Do you have questions? Write them down!

2. Cut down on thinking time

If you pay close attention to your doctor, you may have noticed they usually have a script of questions:

What happened? When did it happen? Where on your body? How did it happen? How bad is it? What makes it better or worse? Any other symptoms? Did you have these before?

Before your visit, try to answer these questions yourself. Draw a timeline if you need to. You will save time answering these questions and also help your doctor understand your situation more clearly.

3. Stay focused

In the 20 minutes, a doctor can only address 2 issues thoroughly. This rule is all the more important for patients who have too many medical conditions. Of course, your physician will try to accomodate for all your needs in the given time. However, addressing 5 medical issues during a single visit may lead to miscommunication and medication errors.

If you have more than 2 medical conditions which need attention at each visit, it may be that you may need to see your physician more often.

4. Write everything down! (again)

Now that your doctor has asked you the questions and examined you, he should share his insight into your questions and problems. You will listen. You will understand. You will go home and forget. Writing down helps you to remember. One caveat is that many physicians now have print outs for common conditions. In this case, writing down general information is not necessary – just specific details which apply to you.

In addition, many physicians prefer to speak in Medicalese rather than English. If this is a problem for you, let the good doctor know you have no clue what he/she just said. Mis-spell the terms in the most obviously horrible way.