What you Need to do when Visiting the Doctor/Caregiver

When you are all set for your yearly, or an upcoming appointment with your primary care provider or practice nurse, your provider maybe ready for you, but are you?

Your physician and other caregivers have limited time due to the time pressures he/she is under so you try to ensure you get the most out of your visit:

By Robert P. Belin, M.D. Engage Estero Health Council and Chairman of Breckenridge Health and Wellness Committee

If possible, bring a trusted person with you, e.g. spouse, a relative, or a close friend.

Be certain that both you and the other person have paper and writing implement. Take notes!  It’s difficult to remember later all the details that were discussed. Ask your questions and avoid unrelated chitchat, unless encouraged. 

As you get ready, make a list of all your medications. Include the dose and frequency taken for each medication.  Also, note any changes (additions, deletions, dose changes).

Make a note of any new symptom(s). Describe in detail and include things like:

  • when did it begin,
  • any known cause (injury, particular food-related, etc.),
  • does it persist all the time or intermittently,
  • does it keep you awake or wakes you,
  • is it related to activity,
  • what makes it better, what makes it worse;
  • weight – have you had unexplained weight loss?

Know your numbers – someone will take your blood pressure and ask for the level – it will be two figures. The systolic is the higher number the diastolic the lower number so it might be like 120/70.

If you had labs done in advance of your visit (a good idea rather than after) so they can be addressed during the visit, ask about the results.

After your physical exam, ask whether there is “anything abnormal”? Find out if you up to date with colonoscopy? Vaccinations?
Women – don’t forget to visit your gynecologist and get your mammogram (and possible ultrasound), and pelvic exam:
Men – a urologist visit – PSA and digital rectal exam. Yearly exams are recommended for all and everyone should undergo a yearly rectal exam by one of your providers!
map of communities on septic systems

Obviously, much of the above guidance also applies to most specialty visits too, i.e. dermatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, etc.

While this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, giving thought to your visit beforehand will make the experience more productive for both you as well as your provider!

So, with that advice, whatever your plans, have a wonderful summer, be safe, and stay healthy.

  Be Informed,
Get Engaged,
and Make an Impact!

Engage Estero is an all-volunteer, nonpolitical, nonprofit Community Engagement Association. We exist to inform citizens of significant community issues and encourage citizen engagement to favorably impact the quality of life in greater Estero.

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