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Make the most of your doctor’s appointment

Having a good relationship with your doctor is key to successfully managing your health care goals. Here are some tips for setting expectations for and maximizing the effectiveness of each visit, so you can get the care you need when you need it.

Your role in your good health

Before the appointment, you should:

  • Write down health questions you have, so you don’t forget them.
  • Bring your medical history and current information with you, including recent test results and what prescription and over-the-counter drugs or herbal supplements you are taking.

During the appointment, you should:

  • Discuss your current symptoms with your doctor and advise him/her if you are seeing another health care professional.
  • Listen to what your doctor is telling you and make sure you understand any directions. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Your doctor’s role in your good health

During the appointment, your doctor should:

  • Discuss your symptoms in a clear and concise manner, actively listening to your concerns and providing answers in terms you can understand.
  • Encourage your participation in making decisions about treatment options.
  • Ensure that you understand your medications, including their directions for use and possible side effects.
  • Summarize your treatment plan, scheduled tests, when you can expect results of those tests and what those results mean, and your follow-up care, including specialty care.

Review each of the topics below and check the ones you may want to discuss with your doctor. Then, take this checklist with you to your next appointment.

Topic Potential questions
Behavioral health (if applicable) Lately, I’ve been feeling [insert emotion], and it’s been affecting [activity]. Should I discuss this with a mental health professional?
Blood pressure What is my blood pressure?
How often should I have it checked?
What can I do to get/keep it under control?
What is a target goal for me?
Cancer screening (female) How often should I receive Pap tests and mammograms?
How often should I receive colorectal cancer screenings?
Cancer screening (male) How often should I receive prostate screenings?
How often should I receive colorectal cancer screenings?
Diabetes Am I at risk for diabetes?
What is my blood sugar level?
Healthy bones How can I keep my bones healthy?
Will a bone density test tell me if I am at risk for osteoporosis?
How often should I have a bone density test performed?
Physical health Am I getting enough exercise?
Which exercises are best for me?
Am I restricted from doing any type of exercise?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Should I be screened for STIs? How often?
Smoking (if applicable) What methods and strategies are available to help me with quitting smoking?
Stroke/heart attack risk What is my blood pressure and what are my cholesterol levels?
How can I keep them under control?
What else can I do to reduce my risk for a stroke or heart attack?
Vaccinations Do I need to get a flu shot every year?
Do I need a pneumonia shot, too?
What other vaccines do I need?
Weight management What is my Body Mass Index (BMI) and what does it mean?