In my opinion, two things make a good doctor: (1) Knowledge about your condition, both symptoms and research; and (2) a good bedside manner. Unfortunately, it is rare to find a doctor with both. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some, but they are few and far between. I decided long ago that it was more important to me to have a knowledgeable doctor than one that made me feel good. I do want to be under the care of someone I respect and who respects me, but I don’t have to like everything about him/her. A good doctor’s appointment often has more to do with me than the doctor. The following is a combination of things I’ve read and my own experiences.
Prepare for your appointments so you make the most of the time.
1. Educate yourself about your condition.
2. Carefully think about your goals for the appointment. Have an agenda.
- What tests do I want/need and why do I want to be evaluated?
- What information do I want to share and what information do I want to leave with?
3. Take with you to your appointment:
- If this is a new doctor: Copy of your medical records, lab, x-ray and MRI records.
- A summary of your medical history with timelines and dates. Have a written history of your symptoms.
- List of medications
- List of other doctors and their contact information
- A family member or friend for support and to help you remember what was said.
- Written list of questions and concerns for this appointment
- Summarize and prioritize your complaints.
- Be direct and straightforward.
- State your goals.
- Be honest with yourself and doctor.
- Don’t underestimate pain.
- Make notes of what doc says.
- If you don’t understand doctor’s recommendations, ask questions.
- Remember that your doctor is not a counselor – don’t vent emotions.
The following form may help you organize for your appointment.