Build a Relationship with Your Doctor
With the start of the new year, many of us will have a new primary care doctor caring for us and our families. If you have made the change to a new doctor, either due to changes in insurance or due to personal choice, be sure you take the time to establish a strong relationship with him or her.
Many studies suggest that people who don't cultivate relationships with their primary care physicians are more likely to go to emergency rooms for regular medical care and are more likely to miss out on routine tests and screenings that can identify serious illnesses and conditions. Many of these conditions are highly treatable if caught early but pose a serious health threat if not diagnosed quickly.
To build a relationship with your PCP, the most important first step is to schedule a regular, annual exam. Let the scheduler know you want time with the doctor to go over your medical history, family history and any issues you may be having. This will tell the scheduler that you need an appointment slot with ample time.
To prepare for the appointment, write down any questions you may have. Also, take notes on any family medical history that you think may be pertinent to your own health. If necessary, request to have your medical records transferred from your previous doctor to your new doctor. Ask your new doctor's office if he or she would like you to have bloodwork and labs done prior to your appointment. If yes, get them done at least a week prior to your appointment.
At your first appointment, be prompt. This helps your doctor and their staff to stay on time, which allows the doctor to spend the maximum amount of time with you.
Be honest with the doctor. This is not the time to paint a false picture of your lifestyle and your overall health. A good doctor wants to partner with their patients and a good partnership is built on honesty and trust. If something is nagging you, share it. If you are depressed and anxious, let the doctor know.
Talk to the doctor about what screenings are appropriate for you, based on your age, gender and medical history. Find out why the doctor recommends those screenings and what the results could tell you.
Talk to the doctor about what health and wellness goals, if any, he or she would like you to work towards. Whether it is weight loss, reducing alcohol intake, increasing activity or stopping smoking, working with your doctor to achieve better health can be the foundation for a wonderful relationship.
After the appointment, follow up on any tests or screenings the doctor recommended. Once the results are in, do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you need to discuss them further or have any questions.
Finally, do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you feel like something isn't quite right. Women, in particular, are notorious for ignoring signs and symptoms until they are very progressed. A good partnership should make you feel comfortable enough to ask questions and share concerns at anytime.
For helping finding the right doctor for you, consult our Find a Doctor tool here.
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