Helpful Hints

How to prepare for a medical appointment


Plan ahead before going to see any healthcare provider and prepare for your office visit. Most appointments are scheduled for only 10 to 15 minutes. By following the guidelines below, you will save time for both you and your doctor and have a better visit overall.

  • Call in advance to make an appointment. Ask how long you might have to wait so you can plan ahead.
  • Arrive a few minutes early to complete any paperwork before your appointment time.
  • Write down your medical history and bring it with you.
  • Make a list of what is bothering you. Include all symptoms and how long you have been having them.
  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you are taking along with the dosages and directions for use or just bring all your medications in the original labeled bottles.
  • Make sure your doctor knows any allergies you have.
  • Bring a pencil and paper to write down what the doctor tells you about your diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and what you can do for yourself at home.
  • Write down the three most important questions that you want answered. There may not be time to ask a long list of questions.

According to the National Patient Safety Foundation the three most important questions to ask are:

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?
  • Ask a friend or family member to come with you so there is another person present to listen with you or to take notes.
  • If you are prescribed medication, ask for samples. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that you are on a budget or can’t afford ALL of the medication prescribed for you.
  • Be sure you understand what all medication is that is prescribed for you and how to take it. You can ask your pharmacist for help if you have questions after you leave the doctor’s office.
  • Make your next appointment before leaving the office and write it down so you don’t forget.
  • If you cannot keep your appointment, call the office to let them know and to reschedule.

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