Making an Appointment
- Make sure you’re seeing the correct specialist/doctor for your query
- Doctors appointments are typically 15 minutes – when booking appointments ask if you can have two slots back-to-back if you feel you need more time, but be aware that you may be charged for both appointment slots.
- Come in with a plan for what you want to get out of your doctors appts. Try to have a list of your top 3 issues or questions.
- Keep each point factual and to the point
- Stories can delay other points being heard, stick to the facts
- Keep to your list of points, if the doctor starts to stray from your list, bring them back to your point with a polite but clear and firm tone. If this doesn’t work, be persistent or try another angle.
If you are seeing a new doctor, it’s ok to be anxious or nervous
- Come prepared with a list of current medications, and current diagnoses so you can bring your doctor up to speed.
- Ask the doctor if they’re willing to learn more about your conditions alongside you. Doctors don’t have all the answers, and often they won’t know as much about your conditions as you do; however many doctors will not be happy to work with someone who acts like they know more than the doctor.
- Try to get them to feel like the two of you are a team, rather than being on opposite sides. Use “we” language rather than “you” language, you want to work together.
During an Appointment
- Do not be embarrassed to bring up a taboo illness. Doctors see all sorts, that’s what they’re there for.
- Be confident and let your voice be heard. If you feel like you can’t say it out loud, write it down for the doctor to read.
- Try to maintain as much eye contact as possible, this creates an environment where both parties feel like they are being heard.
- Honesty is the best policy
- If you drink, or do drugs, do not lie about it. Be honest.
- You cannot get in trouble lawfully
- If you lie about what could be in your system it can impact how you are treated, or whether something needs to be considered before proceeding with certain medications.
- Dress appropriately for your appointment, and remove any strapping that may cause delays during your appointment.
Do you want to be referred to a specialist, or get a second opinion from another specialist?
- Clearly explain why you want the referral
- Explain why and how you would benefit from the referral
- Remember you are entitled to seek a second opinion, it is one of the rights afforded to you by law.
At the end of your appointment
- Do you have a plan moving forward?
- Do you understand any new medication you may have been prescribed?
- New medication won’t always be the fix all, sometimes these things need to be adjusted or changed. If you have initial concerns, speak to your pharmacist.
- There is no “wonder” pill
- There is no “one” doctor
- Book appointments for follow ups regarding your medication, sometimes you may not be aware you are having a side effect to a medication and your doctor will be the best person to pick up if a medication isn’t working for you. Discuss a follow up appointment with your doctor before you start a new medication for this very reason.
- Say thank you, not only to your doctor but also any nurses you may have seen and reception staff. This helps build up relationships with your medical providers.
- Book your next appointment, if you need one, before you leave.
- Do any follow up tests if you have been asked to do.
Still don’t feel like you have been heard?
- Get a second opinion, it is one of the rights afforded to you by law. Get more familiar with what your rights are by reading more about in our breakdown guide.
- Find a new GP if it is possible. You need to have a doctor you can trust with your care. If you don’t have this, it’s important to have a good relationship.
If you are unsure of who the best person to see is for any medical issue you are having feel free to ring Healthline for free on 0800 611 116 at anytime. They will advise on what your best course of action is, whether you should ring 111 for an ambulance crew to come assess you, and potentially take you to hospital for care, or if you should get yourself to the Emergency Department or you can wait for a general appointment with your medical centre. They are there 24/7 to help and advise and will not judge you.