9 Tips You Can Use When Talking With Your Doctor

By Anthony Cerullo

March 8, 2018   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

talking with your doctor

Don’t be reluctant when talking with your doctor.

Be open and honest.

After all, the best family medical practitioners want to hear from you. They want to build strong, trust-based relationships with their patients and the only way that can happen is if the communication flow is as free and easy as possible.

Promoting an open, empathy-based communication with you is the way your professional family doctors put the “care” in “health care.”

Here are some ideas to consider when it’s time to talk to your doctor:

Be personable but get to the point

visit family doctor

You’re busy but you probably don’t know anyone busier than your family doctor. If she’s really great, she’ll make you feel like you’re her only patient even though you aren’t.

When you sense your doctor is a bit busy, think “ABC”. Be “Accurate” and tell her exactly what you need to say. Be “Brief” and use as few words as possible. You also need to be “Clear”. Try not to muddy-up the message by being overly descriptive.

Be prepared

It’s a great idea to come to your appointment with a written list of questions and concerns. It’ll help both you and your doctor remain focused on the important stuff.

Bring a buddy

If you can, have a friend or family member come with you. Your buddy can take notes, think of new questions, and chime in with his own observations. This will enable you to focus all your attention on communicating with your doctor.

Don’t self-diagnose

It’s easy to gather information online but remember, you’re not the doctor. Let your physician make the diagnoses and recommendations. It’s also a good idea to have the doctor suggest resources so you can find more information.

Find out how to access your online medical records

online medical records

Keeping track of your test results, treatment plans, and other specific information related to your care can help save time during your doctor visit. It can free up valuable minutes, which you can use to gather new information and insights.

Ask questions

Ask a lot of questions to help you understand your treatment and overall health issues. The best questions to ask your doctor are open-ended questions.

They can leave your doctor free to answer based on her knowledge and experience rather than just confirming or refuting your pre-conceptions.

Be honest and open about the “embarrassing” stuff

Sexual issues? Bowel problems? Even concerns associated with aging, such as memory loss?

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it. It’s unlikely that you’ll bring up a topic she hasn’t discussed before.

Inquire of the person, not just the data bank

How many patients do you think your doctor will see today or this week? Did you ask her how she’s doing or feeling?


Really listen to her answer. Remember, empathy is always a two-way street. A better relationship means better care.

Ask how your doctor prefers to communicate

These days, many family doctors request patients to send an email before the actual visit. This can help save time. Some doctors, on the other hand, prefer a quick phone call before a visit.

Make the most of your communication when talking to your doctor. If you want the best health care, start by establishing a better communication flow. It can help ensure better care.

Anthony Cerullo

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