Almost everyone has had to prepare for a job interview once in their life. You research the company, ensure you are able to describe your past experiences both positive and negative, and compile a list of questions that you have for the interviewer. Basically, you want to come across as prepared and having done your homework ahead of time.
After going to appointment after appointment, I found that the job interview process can be translated to each doctor’s appointment; new or subsequent. Meeting with the doctor is like having a two-way interview:
The doctor is interviewing you to see if he/she can help you or continue to help you.
You are interviewing the doctor to see if you like her/his approach (new or existing).
If you do a search on “best job interview tips,” you will find that they translate easily to doctor appointments; helping to ensure successful, beneficial and worthwhile appointments. So you may ask: “What does a successful doctor’s appointment look like?” To me, it is when the doctor understands my son’s condition(s) and challenges, what has worked and not worked in the past, and where we are today. Success is when the doctor collaborates with us and comes up with an agreed upon and doable action plan.
So, here are my 9 tips to a successful and beneficial doctor’s appointment.
1. Be on time.
Often, we are the ones who have to wait. It doesn’t always seem fair that we have to be the ones to be on time but it’s still important. You want to start off each appointment on a positive note.
2. Bring a copy of your “medical resume.”
See my earlier blog post on how to put together a synopsis of your child’s medical background, diagnoses, what has worked, what hasn’t. https://www.brewingmorehope.com/post/doctor-appointments-how-a-medical-resume-can-help
3. Do your background research.
You want to fully understand your doctor’s background, experience and specialty. Take advantage of the specific areas of expertise they bring to the table.
4. Be polite to everyone.
Make sure to be courteous to the front desk, nurses and assistants. You never know who will be responsible for performing the next test or arranging the next procedure. Also, try not to take any comments or attitude on their part personally, as it may not be an indication of how well they perform their job and they may be having a bad day.
5. Watch your body language.
Lean in or sit up straight to show you're interested and invested. Show the doctor your level of concern and impress upon him/her that you are looking for action. This also conveys to the doctor that you want to work together; a team approach.
6. Be ready to answer questions - know your “medical resume.”
Refresh your memory, especially on past meds and procedures. Just like in a job interview, anticipate the questions the doctor may have for you.
7. Prepare your own questions.
Have your questions written down, so you don’t accidentally leave something out. Be
cognizant of the time, so prioritize your top questions to make sure they get answered. You can always call back later or use the patient portal, if applicable.
8. Don't badmouth your former doctors.
This is often hard to do but you don’t want the doctor you are meeting with to worry about what you will say about them. Also, you don’t know who the doctor is friends with. You don't want to leave the doctor with a negative feeling towards your case.
9. Thank them for their time that they put into your child’s case.
I like to think that kindness helps the doctor put more time and effort into your child’s
medical case; plus, we are all human and like to be appreciated.
These points have really helped us through many many appointments. It is no guarantee of a productive meeting with a doctor, but a good place to start. Always remember, you are interviewing the doctor too and often have a say in whether you want to continue with them. (Unfortunately, insurance does not always give us a choice.)
All parents wish for a doctor who pays attention and cares about their child’s case. The hope is that the doctor puts the necessary time and effort into evaluating and coming up with a comprehensive plan; all in a timely manner.
You work so hard to find the right practitioners, the right “team,” and to set and coordinate the times. Consider using these tips as a framework to help you to help get the most out of each and every appointment.
You certainly deserve it!
I am not a doctor or therapist. I am not dispensing advice, but simply giving food for thought, discussing my personal experience in relation to parenting a child with chronic illness and the impact it has had on my family. I am not recommending any particular way of parenting; just sharing my experiences. Please consult your physician or personal therapist for issues you are concerned about.