Preparing for your physician appointment

Preparation is important in life and preparing to see your physician is no different. Whether it’s a first time or a return visit to a doctor, being prepared will take some anxiety out of the visit as well as allow both you and your physician to focus on your concerns.

If this is a first time visit, make the appointment at a convenient time and day. There are many physicians who have evening and weekend appointments available. If you require a translator or other assistance for communication notify the doctor’s office at the time you make your appointment, as resources may not be available at all times of the day.

Find out if the doctor has forms for you to complete prior to your visit. These forms will usually contain questions regarding your personal medical history, family medical history and allergies as well as other pertinent information that will be helpful to your physician. If possible, ask for forms to be sent to you via mail or pick them up. If you do not have the forms completed prior to your first visit, arrive early enough to complete them before your scheduled appointment. Make a list of your questions or concerns putting those most important to you at the top of the list, as time may limit how many of these can be discussed during this visit. Bring all of your medications to the appointment. This includes supplements and herbal medications.

If this is a follow up visit, be prepared to discuss any changes in your symptoms. At this time bring up any new symptoms that have appeared. Once again, bring all of your current medication with you or bring a comprehensive list. This is your time to bring up questions regarding your treatment plan and progress. This is also a good time to notify the doctor of any changes in your personal medical history or family medical history.

At the end of your visit, ask questions about things you don’t understand or don’t feel comfortable doing. This includes questions about medications such as dosages and the length of time you need to take them, including potential side effects. Bring up any concerns you have with your treatment plan. Let the doctor know if the visit did or did not meet your expectations. Make plans for follow up care and future visits with your doctor. Keep your list of questions and concerns for those future visits.

—Dr. Sanjay Suthar, family practice physician at Aurora Sheboygan Clinic and Dee Jansen, is vice-president of operations at Harmony Living Centers, LLC.