Tips for Patients when Seeing a New Doctor or Physician

In your pursuit of receiving good health care, one of the first and most important things you should do is find a great doctor. Once you've chosen a doctor, it's time to set up the first appointment. This first appointment is very important because even though you've decided on a doctor, your decision isn't over yet.

There are important questions that need to be asked, and things to look for to make sure your new doctor will work well with you in managing your healthcare. Think about this first appointment as a job interview, and you are the employer, the only difference being that your well being is what is most important. Even though your doctor is a professional, he or she is not the one in charge of managing your healthcare, you are. Alternatively, think of them as a guide, information source and partner in maintaining your well being.

Getting Ready for the First Appointment

Sit down and think about all the questions you want to ask your doctor at the first appointment. Take into consideration the other doctors you've had before, and what you did or didn't like about them. There are no silly, or bad questions to ask, especially when seeing your doctor for the first time. Write these questions down and take them with you, because it can be very easy to forget everything you want to ask.

Gather up all the important things you will need, like your Medicare or other insurance cards, the name, number, and address of your pharmacy, the names of your primary care physicians or other doctors you see, and your ID with your current address. If there are medical records that need transferred from your old physician, make sure those are forwarded before your appointment.

Bring all of your medications with you. If you have to take a lot and you don't want to take them with you, write down their names, how much you take, how often you take them, and which doctor prescribed them to you. Do the same thing with whatever supplements you are taking as well.

Make a list of all of your allergies and the reactions you have to them, as well as any past or current major illnesses, injuries or surgeries. Write down all of the health concerns and symptoms you have, so you have them all handy for when the doctor asks for them.

What to Do at the First Appointment

Bring a folder with you with the lists and questions you made. You should also bring a notebook or a few pieces of paper to write down the answers to questions, and other things you would need to remember from speaking with the doctor. He or she will also likely send some literature home with you, and you can keep everything together in your folder.

Here are a few good questions to ask the new doctor at your first visit:

Why do I need this treatment?
What are the side effects of ____?
What are all of my options for treatment?
What is this test for?
How is this test done?

These sample questions are very vague, but they are good starting points for the questions you might need to ask.

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