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The NSPA Blog

Advance planning can make a big difference at the doctor’s office

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Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by Teri Dreher, under Patient Advocacy, Take Charge

Getting the most out of your visits to your doctor or other health care provider requires some advance planning for optimal success in achieving your goals and getting the most appropriate treatment. Before you arrive at your physician’s office, take some time to think about your goals for the visit and write down your questions and concerns. Going in with a positive attitude and a focus for clear communication will make the best use of your appointment time. It may help to have a small spiral bound notebook dedicated to that purpose in hand, so you can jot down questions as well as record instructions and information that you will need to refer to later. Doctor’s offices are often fast paced and easy to become distracted in. People also tend to get “white coat syndrome”, with elevated BP and heart rate as well as temporary memory impairment due to the stress of being in a medical environment. I know I have kicked myself more than once (and I’m a nurse!) for forgetting to ask my doctor about one of my medicines, or a symptom that had been on my mind for several months. Doctors appreciate patients who come prepared and show respect for their time constraints; it shows that the patient takes their health care seriously and will be more compliant with the doctor’s instructions and plan of care.

Having a folder or notebook dedicated to your health is a great way to keep everything well organized and at your fingertips when you need to answer important questions about your health history. Nothing is more frustrating to health care providers than having a very talkative patient who is fuzzy on details and cannot provide an accurate health history. Delivering safe and effective treatment is dependent upon the collection of accurate information. So the next time you go for a doctor’s office appointment, take a deep breath, smile and walk in prepared to make the best use of your time together. You will both be happy that you did and you will walk away with a better picture of what you can do to heal and grow healthier as a result of your appointment….good luck!

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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