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Patients are used to being led by doctors. But today, taking the lead and being prepared is the key to a good partnership with your doctor. 

Talking about sensitive topics can be hard. But the relationship you have with your doctor is one of the most important parts of getting good care. It’s easy to make a plan to get the most out of your visit. 


Tips on what your plan should include

  • Make a list of your symptoms. Write them down as you have them and be specific.
  • Make a list of your medicines. Include any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, supplements, laxatives or eye drops.
  • Make a list of habits or life changes. For example, you start using a cane, walker or scooter. 
  • Make a list of other medical visits. For example, emergency room or urgent care visits, and other doctor and specialist visits.

Use your time wisely

  • Rank your list of concerns and questions by importance. Pick out the top three or four concerns you want to cover.
  • Be honest with your doctor. Tell the truth. Don’t be worried, your doctor is there to help.
  • Remember, your doctor may not be able to answer all of your questions. If he or she doesn't know the answer, ask if another doctor or specialist may be able to answer your question better.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions

When you don’t know the meaning of a word or you can’t read your doctor’s handwriting, ask for an explanation. And don't be afraid to follow up if you have questions after your visit. 

You and your doctor need to work as a team to make sure you are getting the care you need. Working together could lead to a faster diagnosis, getting your strength back sooner, and being healthier on your terms.



National Institutes of Health. Why being able to talk with your doctor matters. Accessed August 3, 2018.