How to Get the Most from Your Doctor’s Appointment

Life is busy. And you’ve got things you’d rather do than take a trip to the doctor’s office. Whether you’re scheduling a routine checkup or seeking treatment for something specific, don’t make a trip to the doctor without making it worth your while.

Harvard Health identifies ways to make the most of your next appointment:


  • Know what you want to discuss with your doctor.


Identify and write down the reasons you are meeting with the doctor in the first place. According to Harvard Health, these can include “the reason for your visit, what your symptoms are, and if there’s anything stressful going on in your personal life that would affect your health (like a divorce, job change, or move).”


  • Prepare a list of questions.


You likely will have questions for the doctor before you even get to your appointment. Write them down, and take them with you. Don’t run the risk of forgetting to ask important questions that have an impact on your health!


  • Have medical records, family history, and medication information on hand.


This is standard information that typically is collected at the beginning of an appointment (especially if you are a new patient). Rather than trying to remember the details off the top of your head, document this information before your appointment and take it with you. You can check with your doctor’s office to see if this is something that can be sent in advance.


  • Ask someone to go with you.


Distress, discomfort, distractions. These are just a few of the things that can creep in and take your attention from patient-doctor discussions during a visit. Having a friend or family member in the appointment with you helps ensure you don’t forget or miss something your doctor says.


  • Arrive early.


Regardless of whether the doctor is running on schedule, arriving early will guarantee you are ready to go when your name is called. As Harvard Health notes, “arriving before your appointment time gives you a chance to fill out paperwork, go to the bathroom if necessary, and knock out some of the routine steps of the visit, like a blood pressure check.”

To get the most from your next appointment, be proactive. These five simple steps can have a significantly positive impact on the way you interact with—and the value you get from—your doctor’s office.