Health libraryBack to health library
How to get the most from a doctor's visit
These five tips can help ensure a more productive appointment.
Seeing your primary care provider regularly is one of the best things you can do to maintain good health. These visits are important, and time with your provider is often limited. So it's worth it to take a few steps to maximize your time together.
Scroll on to learn about some of the ways you can do that.
Don't just wing it. Make every minute with your doctor count by thinking about what you want to discuss. Write down your questions and concerns in order of importance.
Also, bring information with you that your doctor might not already have, such as a list of all the medicines you take, including vitamins and supplements.
It's easy to forget things your doctor tells you. To help you remember, make notes during or right after the visit, when your memory is fresh. Or consider bringing a family member or friend to take notes for you. You could also ask your doctor's permission to record the visit.
Be open and honest
Talk openly with your doctor, even about sensitive topics, like sexuality, or symptoms that embarrass you. Be honest about your lifestyle habits too—even the unhealthy ones.
Your doctor is there to help, not judge you. The more they know, the better they can care for you.
Confirm what you've heard
Do your doctor's instructions seem even just a little unclear? Ask them to explain again. It's vital that you understand. Here's a good way to make sure you understand the information your doctor gives you: Try repeating it back to your doctor, and ask if you got it right.
Make a follow-up plan, if needed
Let your doctor know if you need more time to talk about something. They may have another patient to see, but you might be able to talk with a nurse or another staff member. Or you may need to schedule a follow-up appointment.
Likewise, don't hesitate to reach out if you have a follow-up question after your visit.
Seeing your doctor virtually?
Get tips for a great video visit.
Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; National Institutes of Health
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor Appointment." https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor/.
- National Institutes of Health. "Five Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor's Visit." https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/five-ways-get-most-out-your-doctors-visit.
- National Institutes of Health. "Talking With Your Doctor or Health Care Provider." https://www.nih.gov/institutes-nih/nih-office-director/office-communications-public-liaison/clear-communication/talking-your-doctor.