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Make Your Medical Visits Less Frustrating

Dr. Daniel Sterner, MD
Dr. Daniel Sterner, MD

Do you ever feel frustrated after visiting your medical provider? There are a lot of reasons why this might happen: You may have waited longer than expected. Maybe you may feel your provider was in a rush and didn’t listen to you. Maybe you forgot to bring something up that you’d been waiting to ask for weeks.

Here are some tips to help your experience be smoother.

Arrive early: If you arrive at your 11:00 a.m. appointment at 11:00 a.m. by the time the receptionist and nurse get you checked in, it is probably at least 11:05 a.m. That’s five minutes less time you have with your provider. Many times, the provider seems like they are in a rush, because they are. Sometimes it’s because it took longer to get you roomed than normal.

Be concise: Be concise with the receptionist and nursing. Nurses and receptionists are fantastic people. If you give the full story about how you got in a car accident, because some guy was texting and driving, they will politely listen to the whole story. But you will have burned up valuable time that could have been saved for when you are with the provider. Tell them what they ask you but don’t embellish. Stick to what is wrong. Chances are you’ll have to repeat much of it again to the provider anyway.

Bring a list: One thing that can be helpful is writing down the things you want to talk about. It’s best to note the most important things first. Your provider may only be able to address a couple things, but during return appointments, you won’t have forgotten what you wanted to talk about. And sometimes, your provider may add things to your list so you both remember for the future.

Set an agenda: With your list in hand, take a quick moment to review what you want to talk about. Taking a quick moment to make an agenda with your provider about what to talk about during your visit, and what to talk about at another visit, can ensure that your concerns are addressed. Sometimes you and your provider will have different agendas. For example, your athlete’s foot may be driving you crazy, but your provider may be concerned about another problem like high blood pressure or that you saw blood in your stool. Taking a moment to set the agenda can help bring out what the significant concerns of both parties are and ensure the time is used effectively. Your provider may also let you know what is feasible to address at that visit given the limited time they may have with you.

To be clear, you can do all of these things and still have a frustrating time at the clinic. You might arrive early just to wait for 30 minutes. You might make a list and set an agenda and still find the visit gets off track from your goals. You may be concise with the nurse and still get asked the same questions several times. Providers and clinical staff make every effort to make things as efficient and comfortable as possible for patients. Getting medical care is important. Hopefully it’ll get less and less frustrating as you work with your provider to have smoother visits in the clinic.

– Dr. Daniel Sterner, MD is a physician in Health West’s American Falls clinic. He specializes in family medicine and obstetrical care and is accepting new patients.



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