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You and Your Doctor

It is so important to have clear communication with your family doctor. The patient needs to do their best to explain their symptoms or concerns to their family doctor.  And, ideally, the family doctor will take time to explain things in terms which the patient can understand.

This is the ideal situation, but it is sometimes far from what actually happens. It is stressful going to see our doctor when we are not feeling well. We can be forgetful or feel intimidated. Add to this having to wear a paper dress in a freezing-cold examination room, and we have a recipe for a disappointing experience.

Here are some things you can do to take responsibility for your side of your patient-doctor relationship:

1.         Make a list of what you want to discuss before you come to the appointment. Most doctors welcome this, some do not. If your doctor does not like lists, make one anyway. This list is for you and your comprehensive care. And, whether your doctor appreciates it or not, it is a way to respect her time as well, by efficiently addressing your concerns.

2.         Take someone you trust with you to make notes and help ask questions. Two sets of ears will pick up more than one. Having another person there who present in your best interest may have different questions or perspective which will bring more information to light.

3.         Be honest. Tell your doctor about everything you are doing with regard to your health – good or bad. She needs to know if you are under the care of an alternative practitioner, such as a naturopath or acupuncturist. Your doctor also needs to know how much alcohol you consume, and if you take over-the-counter non-prescription medication on a regular basis.  This is not the time to be coy or try to paint a better picture of your practices.

3.         If you have frustration or disappointment in dealing with your doctor, talk to her about it. We may feel tempted to just find another doctor and start over again, but this can be a trying experience especially if you are in the throes of an existing medical condition. Instead, tell your doctor how you are feeling about how she interacts with you, and be honest. This may be an opportunity to come to a better understanding of each other. And, if your honest comments are met with an unsatisfactory response, then you can feel certain that it is best to move on and find another doctor.

4.         Trust yourself. If you have questions about your health which remain unanswered, ask to have a second opinion or to see a specialist in the field of our concern.

We are a generation of women who recognize that we have responsibility to take part in our health care. Gone are the days of accepting our physician’s diagnosis or treatment without question. Asking questions and doing a little research on our own is the best way to ensure that we are taking the treatment path that best works for us.