Good Doctor-Patient Communication

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Guest blogger: Lindsay V., Communications Coordinator

There can be fear associated with going to the doctor. Some are nervous that the doctor will find something wrong, or are afraid to disclose certain symptoms. Others have fear they are not asking the right questions, or are concerned that they are not being presented all options. Good communication between you and your doctor can help squash those fears.

Remember, your doctor cares about your well-being and wants to keep you healthy. No one is perfect and it is important to be honest—they are not going to judge you, they just want to help you. Doctors want to hear all of the details about each of your ailments. It is their job to listen so they can figure out if something is wrong. Ultimately, when your doctor sees you when you are healthy, it will help him or her recognize when you are sick.

Good communication also involves making sure your doctor is the best fit for your needs—you should not pick a doctor just because they are the most convenient. Your doctor should be able to address your needs and make you feel empowered to say what is on your mind.

A lot can be gained by improving communication between you and your doctor, including better care, less stress, a more efficient use of time and greater satisfaction. Here are some tips for helping communication:

  • Keep a health journal. Write down all of your symptoms, how you feel, what your research says, questions, etc. This will help you formulate your thoughts and stay organized.
  • Educate yourself. Use the Internet as a tool, but stick to reliable sources. Prepare questions about the information you read and do not be afraid to ask them—remember to be specific.
  • Articulate your needs. This can help your doctor make useful suggestions. (Example: “It’s better for my job if I take my medication at night” can help your doctor find the right prescription.)
  • Relax. Arriving early can help reduce anxiety by allowing you to be prepared.
  • Write it down. Write down whatever is on your mind before you arrive. In addition, take notes during your appointment so you do not forget anything important.

Last, but not least, be appreciative of all that your doctor does to help keep you healthy. A little kindness and recognition goes a long way.

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