Tips From a Doctor: Get the Most out of Your Visit
- by Dr. Gabriel Pardo, MD
- May 08, 2017
Dr. Pardo is a paid spokesperson for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Tips to help you prepare for your next appointment.
Each one of us wants the best medical care possible. We want a physician who is knowledgeable and who we can trust. We want him or her to be available when we have questions or problems. We want great rapport; we want to feel like we both relate to each other, and we want to get along well. This is even more important when dealing with a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis, as the relationship with the physician is going to last for a while. To some degree, it is like finding a friend, or even a spouse. We want it to be long-lasting, comfortable and rewarding and bring us some good.
A physician-patient relationship is centered on the patient; that’s you. After all, you visit your doctor to discuss your problems, find answers and set up a treatment plan. It’s the physician’s job to guide you through the process and provide knowledge and expertise. But it is not a one-way deal. If you do not do your part, you may not experience the outcomes you are expecting.
So, what do you need to do? Actually, a whole lot. Just showing up to your appointment is not enough. It is important that you come to your appointments fully prepared. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit.
- Think about the issues you want to discuss ahead of time to get the most out of your appointment. These may include new symptoms, questions about treatment, side effects you may be experiencing, results of recent tests you’ve had done, what to expect in the future and maybe even questions about new research. And here is the trick: Write it down! If you don’t, you run the risk of forgetting some of it. Ideally, you should bring two copies and hand one to your physician at the beginning of your visit. At the end, make sure you have addressed all your points. Prioritize them by putting the most important items at the top of the list.
- If you are seeing a physician for the very first time, bring your health journal. If you write down all the symptoms you have EVER experienced that you think are related to MS in a health journal you should include dates, duration, degree of resolution and all treatments you have received. Then, make sure you bring your notes with you (or your doctor has already received a copy) in addition to any laboratory or MRI results. You can find tips on keeping a health journal in this blog post.
- Keep an updated medication list with doses and how often you take it. Hand it to the person who brings you to the examination room so that it makes it into your chart. I can assure you, nobody will know what that little, round, red pill you take at noon is (let alone what it is for), if you don’t know the actual name. And until you find out, your doctor might be reluctant to give you new medications for fear of interactions or duplication. This could result in a missed opportunity to take care of a problem that is bothering you.
- Understand your disease. The more you know about MS, the more effective you are at being your best advocate. You will be able to discuss issues with your physician in a way that facilitates communication and optimizes decision-making.
- Maximize your time with your doctor. You have to make it about you. Yes, it’s nice to talk about your kids and brag on how well they are doing, but it does you no good. Time is a premium, and you should cherish it.
Physicians are here to help and provide the best care possible. That is why it is so important to come prepared with a goal for each appointment. After all, you are your best advocate.
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Dr. Gabriel Pardo, MD
About The Author
Dr. Pardo, MD is a board-certified neurologist. He received his medical degree from Nueva Granada Military University and has been in practice for over 20 years.
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Steven | May 31, 2017Thank you for the helpful tips! I am newly diagnosed and have seen my neurologist once. I did write down symptoms and concerns (I actually just used the 'Note' feature on my iPhone) but it certainly helped. I have not been as good at doing that lately, but I certainly will return to doing so. Thanks!
Teva's Lift MS Team | May 31, 2017Thank you for sharing this tip, Steven.
Dolores | June 04, 2017Thanks for all you do for us dealing with ms. I am alone scared what my future holds for me but I believe God is with me and will always direct me...Amen
Teva's Lift MS Team | June 05, 2017We're glad to hear you're enjoying the blog, Dolores. Here is another blog post we think you might like: https://www.liftms.com/motivation/biscuits. Best wishes!