Honesty Is the Best Policy and Other Tips for Talking With Your Doctor

7 minute read

All too often it takes weeks to get an appointment with your doctor. When you finally do get to the doctor, you don’t get long to describe what is going on.

Unfortunately, studies show that this one-on-one time is getting even shorter. With the pressure on, you can easily miss out on key bits of information. It is important to know what to say and to say it fast, so you can be heard. Here are some tips and why they are so important.

Communicating With Your Doctor

When we are sick, we crave attention and care, so this overall process is nothing like we feel we should get. There is something daunting about entering the healthcare process, and we end up feeling powerless.

The good news is that there are things you should know to help communicate better with your doctor. At the same time, many healthcare professionals are working to learn how to communicate better with patients. Here are tips to remember the next time you speak with your physician.

1. Doctors Are People Too

Make a human connection with your doctor when you first see them. Rather than diving right into your health concern, start off with a greeting, or ask how they are doing.

You can even share a joke to break the ice, so long as you converse first and get to the problem later. Of course, each doctor has their own individual style, just remember that you’re talking to a person, not a robot.

2. Rehearse First

If you have trouble discussing certain topics or get embarrassed, try rehearsing before you go. Practice saying the words aloud that make you uncomfortable so that when you are with your doctor, you don’t leave anything out.

Feeling embarrassed may cause you to skip some details that could be important to your diagnosis.

3. Stay on Point

Once the greeting is out of the way get to the point of your visit and stay there. No need to over-share details because the doctor only really needs to know the simple facts. Getting off-topic can be a distraction and can interfere with their ability to effectively treat you.

4. Tell the Truth

Make sure you are honest and forthright. Tell you doctor all your complaints, so they can help to adequately resolve them. Do not be scared to share all the facts, because leaving something out can lead to an ineffective diagnosis and treatment.

5. Ask Questions

Do not save your questions until the end. Once the doctor has listened to your complaints and made a diagnosis, they will be mentally moving on to another patient.

Ask your questions right away and do not wait until they have one foot out the door.

6. Don’t Go Alone

Having a close friend or family member with you can ensure that everything gets discussed and asked. You may forget to ask a question, but your friend remembers. They can also help to take notes on the doctor’s instructions in the event you forget what was said later on.

It always helps to have another set of ears listening or a reference to look back on after the fact.

7. Switching Is Okay

If you feel that your doctor is rushing you, not listening, or not meeting your needs, then do not be afraid to switch doctors. You can request another physician in the same group or change to a new facility completely.

It is important to remember that this is your health and your life, and you need to feel comfortable and in good hands.

What Doctors Wish You Knew

Communication is a two-way street. It is important for you to communicate clearly and openly with your doctor and in return they should do the same. Doctors understand the importance of communication and many take part in training programs to ensure that the most can be made out of every visit.

Along with keeping the lines of communication open, there are other things that doctors want their patients to understand to make the process smoother:

Change Is Challenging

Doctors understand that making lifestyle changes can be difficult. When they offer these suggestions to you, it is in your best interest.

They want you to remember that they know it may be a struggle. Talk to them about this and they can help to devise ways to keep you on track.

They Don’t Forget You

Sometimes testing has to be done during a visit, and the doctor may leave the room for a what seems like an eternity. They want patients to understand that they are collecting data and analyzing tests to better treat you.

Yes, they have numerous patients, but leaving the room does not mean they have forgotten you. They just need some additional resources to solve your problem.

Waiting Is Not Always Their Fault

When you are left in the waiting room longer than you hoped, it is common to think the doctor does not value your time. This is not the case.

There is no way to determine how each visit will go ahead of time—the person in front of you may have revealed something serious like suicidal thoughts or blood when they cough. Doctors may have to give additional and unplanned attention to another patient, so waiting should never be taking as a personal slight.

They Need Honesty

Being honest helps both you and your doctor. You need to provide all accurate information regardless, even if it is to disclose behavior that went against their previous suggestions.

| Related: Why Closing Psychiatric Hospitals Caused a Mental Health Crisis |

In order to best treat you, they need honesty and ultimately your health will benefit from this honesty.

The Bottom Line

Getting older often means having more health concerns. The body naturally starts to shut down, and we may require a little extra medical attention than we did in younger years.

It is important to have a doctor that you trust and that you feel comfortable with. Without this, your health could be neglected. Remember to always communicate openly with your doctor and do not leave the office until you are satisfied.

When you and your doctor work together, your health will be in the best possible hands.

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