Share information and ask questions to make the most of your time with your doctor.
Learning to be confident when talking with your doctor is an important skill. It allows you to take an active role in your own health care. Start by letting your parents and doctor know that you want to try answering questions on your own. Once you become more comfortable, you may ask for time alone with your doctor.
Here are a few tips on what to share and how to do it:
Before the Appointment
- Know Your History: Review your medical history including previous care, medicines, and allergies. Written Care Plans and a Care Notebook might be a great place to start.
- Perform a Health Review Since Your Last Appointment: Think back to your last appointment. Think of things that have changed since then. This may include any body changes, how you feel physically and emotionally, questions or concerns about your health or things that may affect your health (diet, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.).
- Make a List: Write down the things you want to share during your appointment, including questions and concerns. It may help to go over the list with your parents – ask if they have anything to add. Prioritize your list, in case you don’t have time to get to everything.
- Know How You Like to Get Information: Do you learn best by watching a video, reading, or looking at pictures? Do you like information written down during your visit? Begin to notice what combination of learning and communication works best for you and be sure to share this with your doctor.
During the Appointment
- Listen and Learn: During your appointment, jot down information and instructions so you don’t forget. Ask if you need something repeated, or ask your health care provider to write things down for you.
- Be Honest: It is important for your doctor to know what is going on with you. Don’t be embarrassed! It is normal to be uncomfortable talking about certain subjects. No matter what it is, your health care providers have probably heard it from other teens too. The more information you give, the better they can help you.
- Speak Up and Ask Questions: Speak up if you don’t understand something. If you don’t feel like your questions are being answered, don’t give up. Ask the question in a different way to make sure you are being heard and understood.
- Agree on a Plan: Work with your doctor on a plan of care and next steps. Don’t agree to something you are not willing or able to do. Make a checklist of things you have agreed to do and show it to your doctor.
After the Appointment
- Forget Something? If you think of something after the visit, it is okay to call or email your doctor’s office to ask questions
- Follow Your Plan of Care: Go over your notes from the appointment. Finish your checklist of things that you have agreed to do.
- Use a Personal Health Journal: It may help to start a personal health journal to record and review your progress for your next appointment.