Tips on Communicating Effectively With Your Doctor


Communication is the most important part of any personal and professional relationship.  It’s especially important with your doctor.  No matter what kind of problems or symptoms you have, even if you think they’re weird or embarrassing, it’s critical that you are open and honest with your doctor.  If not, you run the risk of not getting the proper treatment, which could lead to serious health complications.  Doctors also have less time to be face-to-face with patients than they used to, so it’s important to be as efficient as possible, that way you can cover everything you want to cover in your appointment.

Here are a few tips on how to communicate with your doctor:

  • Write down a list of concerns and questions before your appointment, that way you know exactly what you want to talk about before you see your doctor.
  • If you have a long list of questions, prioritize them from most important to least important. That way if you don’t get to all of them, you at least have your most important concerns addressed.
  • Make sure you have access to your medical records and know your medical history before your appointment.
  • Speak frankly and openly with your doctor. If you’re worried your symptoms might be a sign of something serious, share those worries with your doctor.  They’ll be able to tell you if those worries are realistic or not.
  • Be honest about any side effects your medicines are giving you. This medicine might not work for you, or you could be allergic to it.
  • Be honest about what you need from your doctor. If you want to try a different medication, or think you need medical equipment, tell you doctor.  It might not be the first thing they think of.
  • Take notes during the appointment, that way if you need to review them later you can.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. You should fully understand any information your doctor gives you.
  • If you find you have a tough time getting your point across, consider bringing a family member or friend with you to help.
  • If you weren’t able to address everything you needed to, or if you thought of something after the appointment, schedule a follow-up appointment.
  • Ask your doctor if there are other ways to contact them other than appointments. Some doctors are able to talk with patients on the phone or through email.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your next appointment.  Above all remember: you want to build a relationship with, and be comfortable with, your doctor.  If you’re not comfortable with them, or you think you’re not getting the care you need, shop around, and find someone you can build a relationship with and trust.  Your relationship with your doctor can be one of the most important ones in your life if you communicate well with them.