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Take an Active Role in Your Doctor Visits

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Patient-doctor relationships are a partnership and require understanding and compassion from all parties involved in a patient’s care, whether you are an adult or receiving medical care for a child. Taking an active role in your health care and working alongside your doctor will help you to better communicate your needs and achieve your medical and personal health goals.

Here are a few tips you can follow on your next doctor visit.

  • Write down a list of your concerns and prioritize them.
  • Make a list of the medications and vitamins you are taking and update your doctor.
  • Consider bringing a family member or friend with you for support.
  • Update your doctor on what happened in your life since your last visit. Mention any changes you’ve noticed in appetite, weight, sleep, energy levels or any changes in medications.
  • Talk about your habits and daily activities you enjoy. It will help him or her to understand your medical conditions and recommend the best options.
  • Get information about new medications your doctor is prescribing – side effects, unusual interactions with other medicines or allergic reactions. Make sure you understand directions for correct dosages.
  • Ask questions about medical tests that are being ordered:

-Why is the test being done?
– What steps does the test involve? How should I get ready?
– Are there any dangers or side effects?
– How will I find out the results? How long will it take to get the results?
– What will we know after the test?

  • Discuss choices, different treatments, risks and benefits.
  • Learn who the other members of the healthcare team are and communicate with them as well- nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, occupational or physical therapists.
  • Ask about prevention measures.
  • Don’t be afraid to call or email your doctor with any follow up questions or concerns after your visit.

Most importantly, remember that your doctor is there to provide guidance, encouragement and medical expertise to achieve the highest possible outcomes for you. If  you don’t agree with something, speak openly with your doctor.

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