Whether it is a meeting with your family doctor, nurse practitioner, liver specialist or mental health practitioner it is important to plan and think about your appointment before you attend. This is key to developing a positive relationship with your practitioner and to ensure you feel understood and responsible for your care. This ensures that if you are dealing with an illness or injury you and your practitioner can make a decision about your care according to your beliefs, values, and lifestyle. This will also give you more confidence when dealing with an illness or injury and allow you to advocate for yourself and your health. To prepare for an appointment you can do several things including:
- Bringing a family member or friend with you
- Ask for instructions and keep a notepad or binder to keep track of appointments, notes and recommendations from your doctor
- Schedule your appointments as required and call to ensure you have the correct time
Planning for your upcoming appointment
Depending on your situation and your healthcare provider, the length and appointment type may be different. You may have to answer important questions, undergo certain monitoring procedures, make decisions, or be dealt with some difficult news.
There are certain forms you can fill out to help you think through what is needed for an upcoming appointment. They can be found here
A new appointment
If you are seeing a new doctor, consider bringing your identification, a list of all medications you are taking, and a breakdown of symptoms with a timeline.
Sample outline for appointment planning
Here is a basic outline for planning before an appointment with your doctor:
Make a list of your concerns /questions
Keep in mind some doctors have limited time periods to spend with you and this may be limited to one concern. Call the clinic ahead of time to verify this and book another appointment if you have more than one major concern.
Bring important information with you
This can include all your medications and supplements, photo identification, health care card, insurance card, and contact information for other doctors or providers that you see
Decide who you want to bring with you
Depending on your situation and abilities you may want to bring a family member, friend or support worker with you. This can be someone who can help you understand what is being told to you, or they can be there for moral support. Ensure this is someone who will not take over the appointment, but will support you as you ask questions or listen to your provider.
Inform your doctor of any significant changes in your life
As you live day to day, keep track of new symptoms or concerns you have over time as they relate to the doctor you will be seeing. If none of these are emergent you can let your doctor know about these changes since your last visit. Other things to tell your doctor about are new diagnoses in your family, new stresses, reactions to medications, change in energy, mood or appetite, and if you had to go to the emergency room for any reason. You can also talk about travel if it took you out of the country.
Be sure you have any supportive equipment you need
If you have trouble hearing, bring your hearing aids. If you have trouble seeing, bring your glasses. Also, if you require a brace or any type of equipment bring this with you so your doctor can see how it is working for you. If you require an interpreter, call the office or clinic ahead of time and request one. If you have a family member who can interpret for you, ensure they are available for your appointment date.