Getting the Most of Your Time During a Doctor’s Visit

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Written by Patrick Bailey

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Do you ever leave your doctor’s appointment feeling like you missed out on getting questions answered? Do you ever feel rushed when visiting your practitioner? Many patients leave their appointments feeling like the time slipped by — but there are ways to curb this experience. Whether you are seeing your general practitioner for your yearly physical or spending time speaking with your med manager at outpatient programs, use these tips to get the most of your time during a doctor’s visit.

Be Prompt

Doctor’s appointments are one of those things where if you are late, you cause everyone after you to be late, also. Try to be on time, and if you are running late, call ahead and let the staff know. Remember that there is usually paperwork to be completed, so try to show up 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment, ideally. This ensures that the time you need to talk to your provider is not cut short.

Be Courteous

Along the same lines of showing up on time is how being courteous can impact the time spent in your doctor’s office. If you are visiting your general practitioner, don’t make the provider wait while you disrobe or use the bathroom. Try to hasten these tasks so your time spent with the provider is not compromised. Wear clothing that is easy to put on and take off, if applicable, and if you are bringing a child for an appointment, dress them in simple, non-restrictive garments for the checkup. The few minutes it takes to wrestle with buttons or ties can add up.

Go Alone

Speaking of children, try to leave the kids at home during your appointments, whenever necessary. It will be difficult to give your provider full attention if you are also trying to keep an eye on young children; this may impact the questions you ask, and whether you truly heard the answers given.

Prioritize Problems

It is important to make a note of your questions and concerns but try not to bring a list of issues. Choose the most pressing problems first, to ensure a thorough and understood conclusion before asking about something else. Addressing every ache and pain will likely eat up a lot of time; try to be courteous of patients that are coming in behind you. If you have numerous concerns to discuss with the provider, let staff know when making the appointment; they might give you a longer time slot or double visit. Make sure to also bring a current and complete list of any medications you are on, including supplements, vitamins, and herbal remedies.

Get to the Point

You have your list of concerns — what to do next? Ask and address the most pressing issues first. That is, talk about what brought you to the appointment in the first place, unless it is simply an annual exam. Worried about something? Address it now, or you may regret it later. If you beat around the bush, your provider may assume all is well and exit the visit without ever talking about what really is bothering you. Don’t wait until they are headed out the door to see the next patient before mentioning the underlying issue or concern that you are experiencing. This is not the time to be subtle or shy. By prioritizing your problems, as mentioned above, you will be able to get the most from the time and leave with some peace of mind.

Be Patient

Even with the greatest intentions, you may still have to wait when arriving for your appointment. Try your best to be kind and patient. Conveying a bit of appreciation and understanding can go a long way; the ripple-effects of simply being kind can be amazing. 

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Be Honest

Be honest when providing information or family history with your doctor or practitioner; don’t worry, they won’t be shocked or think differently about you as their patient. Giving false, vague, or inaccurate information is not just a waste of time, it could have potential risks for your medical wellbeing. Accurate information is part of how your provider determines your risk markers for serious illnesses and conditions. Be frank and tell the truth.

Make the most of the time that you have with your doctor, provider, or practitioner. This is integral to getting your questions answered, symptoms addressed, and concerns alleviated, during precious moments spent with your medical professional. Whether seeing a GP for a broken bone to professionals involved with your addiction treatment, use these tips the next time you have an appointment.


Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.