9 Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

9 Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on July 25, 2013 • Updated September 15, 2023

Your Next Doctor's Appointment

Going to a doctor’s appointment can be very intimidating and sometimes a bit scary, especially if you’re seeing a new doctor. Many patients are afraid to visit a doctor, delay making an appointment because of fear, forget what they want to ask once they are in the exam room and leave the visit with more questions than they came with.

Below are nine tips to help you make the most of your doctor’s appointment starting with scheduling the appointment to what you should do when you get home from an office visit.

9 Tips For Making the Most Out of Your Doctor's Appointment

  1. Try Scheduling the First Appointment of the Day. The first appointment of the day minimizes any waiting time. Also, when scheduling an appointment be clear with the scheduling person on why you need to see the doctor. Mention if you are a new patient, so they can get all of your information and describe all of your symptoms, so a specific amount of time can be set aside for you.
  2. Know the Office Location. Be prepared by getting directions to the office beforehand and knowing where to park. Also, many physicians’ offices will ask new patients to arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork.
  3. Bring your Insurance Card and Driver’s License. Also, make your wait pleasant by bringing a favorite book, magazine or some home or office paperwork.
  4. Compile your Medical History. Make written lists of the medications you are taking, including the name of the medication, dose, number of doses per day and reason.
  5. Share your Surgical History. Your physician’s office will want to know if you have had surgery in the past. Make sure to share what type and when, for example: Total Hysterectomy-1989. Make sure to also include medical history such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer treatment, etc.
  6. Dress Appropriately. Wear loose, layered clothing that is easy to remove as offices are often cold.
  7. Be Honest while Talking to your Doctor. Don’t hold back any information even if you might consider it embarrassing. The more information you share, the better the doctor will be able to figure out what’s wrong and how to treat you.
  8. Understand Prescribed Medications. Leave your office visit understanding your doctor’s instructions. Ask your doctor about any prescribed medication side effects and how long you should take the medication.
  9. Call your Doctor or Nurse if you are not Feeling Better. If you are not feeling better after following your doctor’s instructions and/or medication, call the doctor’s office. Also, if you get home and don’t understand something, call the office and ask questions.

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!

- Holly L. Thacker, MD

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.

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