Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Dr. Charles Stern gives tips on how to make your next visit productive for you and your doctor

You’re feeling under the weather and you’ve made an appointment with your physician. He walks in and you feel as if he can read your mind. He knows all of your health sins.

Sure you exercise four times a week and eat the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits. And those medications prescribed last time, you took them all.

But the truth is most people aren’t as diligent about taking care of themselves as health professionals would like. In spite of this, you should always be honest with your doctor about your habits and symptoms.

“It is important for all patients to be honest with their doctors regarding symptoms, concerns, compliance and lifestyle habits,” Charles H. Stern, M.D. said. “Such communication makes for a more optimal doctor-patient relationship and aids the physician in providing the most appropriate care.”

Not only can honesty promote trust between the physician and the patient, it can also allow for correct diagnoses and prescription dosages.


And honesty isn’t only the best policy with your doctor. It is also important to make clear the issues you want to be seen for when calling to make your appointment.

“If you make an appointment because you have a cough and then you want a whole host of symptoms to be addressed in a fifteen minute appointment, there’s not going to be enough time,” Dr. Stern said.

The best rule-of-thumb, according to the doctor of family medicine, is to write down the questions you have before you come in and know exactly what your symptoms are and when they began.

“If you have a chronic illness that you take medication for, bring a list of your medications with their dosages,” Dr. Stern said. “And if the patient has high blood pressure or diabetes; it would be beneficial for those patients to bring in recent blood pressure and blood sugar measurements.”

If the patient is ready for the physician when he comes into the examining room, there’s a better chance that the time they have together will be productive and helpful.

“Some patients are good about keeping logs about what they’re eating and other health issues, but we understand that the commitment to health varies with each patient,” Dr. Stern said. “We want to encourage people to call their doctor’s office when they are feeling ill and make clear the reasons they want to be seen so they will get an appropriate amount of time.”

About the author

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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment