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Making the Most of Your Appointment - Topic Overview

Many people are more satisfied with their health care if they share the responsibility with their doctors. Your doctor is an expert on medical care, but you are the expert on yourself. Often there is more than one option for diagnosing or treating a condition. By being a partner with your doctor, you can help choose the option that best fits your values, beliefs, and lifestyle. You also will feel more confident about carrying out the chosen treatment.

Here are some tips for being a good partner with your doctor:

  • Build a relationship with your doctor. Let your doctor know that you want to be a partner in your health care. Tell the doctor what your expectations are.
  • Be an active participant in each appointment. Listen carefully to what your doctor says. If you do not understand a diagnosis or treatment, ask questions. And tell the doctor if you think that following the prescribed treatment will be hard for you.
  • Have a family member or friend with you during your appointment, if possible. He or she can take notes, ask questions to clarify information, and help you remember what your doctor says.
  • Ask for instructions. Before you leave the doctor's office, make sure you know what you are supposed to do to care for yourself. Ask for written information, links to videos and websites, and any other instructions.
  • Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
  • Prepare your child for tests and exams. Let your child know why he or she is seeing a doctor and what will be done during the visit. Your child's age and developmental level will determine how best to prepare him or her. And ask your older child if he or she would like to speak to the doctor alone. Teens may be more willing to talk about topics such as sexuality, mental health, and drugs or alcohol if they know they can have time on their own with their doctors.

What is the reason for your appointment?

During your appointment, you will need to answer some important questions so that you and your doctor can plan your care together. Completing the appropriate forms before the appointment helps you provide correct and complete information, take an active role in your health care decisions, and make the most of your limited appointment time.

Choose the form that best describes your reason for seeing the doctor.

Helpful forms
Reason for appointment Form to complete

A new problem or symptom

Appointment for a New Problem(What is a PDF document?)

Follow-up to a previous problem

Follow-Up Appointment(What is a PDF document?)

First appointment with this doctor

First Appointment(What is a PDF document?)

Your Family Medical History(What is a PDF document?)

Appointment for an ongoing health problem

Regular Checkup for a Lifelong Condition(What is a PDF document?)

Appointment for a child who is healthy

Regular Checkup for a Child(What is a PDF document?)

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 25, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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