How To Have Productive Doctors' Appointments

It is no secret that doctors are considerably busier than they used to be - the current health crisis has seen to that. Sadly, this means that despite a strong desire to help their patients, doctors are unable to spend little more than ten to fifteen minutes on each appointment. In this article, I will offer suggestions on how to get your most pressing needs met at your next consultation.

You feel unwell or are experiencing a worrying symptom. You ring up your local surgery and make an appointment (or get a GP referral to see a specialist), hoping for the opportunity to air your fears at the very least. The appointed date and time arrives and the doctor does more talking than listening. More often than not, he/she ends the appointment by writing a prescription instead of determining the root cause of your symptom(s). You leave dejected, feeling like just another interruption in his/her busy day. This does not happen to every single one of us every single time we visit a doctor's office but once is once too many. 

Below are a few ways that you can use what little time you spend with your doctor to your advantage.

  • Bring someone with you for support, if necessary. This is especially important if you are likely to get too emotional to get your point across. A level-headed, objective friend or confidant can be a great advocate in this regard.


  • Take a list of relevant symptoms and/or points you wish to discuss. Sharing one's most intimate health concerns with a relative stranger can be nerve-wracking. Having a list of prompts to hand (including any tests you would like to request, for example) may be helpful.


  • Take notes. Brief reminders that capture your doctor's most salient points are best. Should you choose to bring someone for support, you could ask them to do this on your behalf during the consultation.


  • Ask for copies of medical records and/or test results. This will enable you to keep track of your progress (or lack thereof).


  • Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor to repeat or clarify anything you do not understand. The NHS has compiled a detailed checklist of questions you may wish to consider.


  • Find another doctor. If you feel as though you are getting nowhere, perhaps it may be time to find a doctor who is willing to be an ally in your quest for health. Simply ask to see another doctor in the surgery or register with another practice altogether, if necessary.

Chi Feasey