How to thank your doctor, PA, or NP!

'Thank You' cards, flowers, and fruit baskets are wonderful to receive, but what your provider wants most as a thank you gift is time. Time with you! With patients. Being ill prepared for a clinical visit can not only put stress on the relationship you have with your health care provider, but can prevent you from getting the most out of your visit. 

Consider the changing healthcare landscape. Due to higher demands and rising costs, providers are forced to see more patients in shorter amounts of time. Got a sick visit? You'll be lucky to have 30 minutes scheduled into your visit. Many will only schedule you for fifteen! Follow these tips for making the best of your visit! 

Know your background! If you are seeing a provider you've been with for some time, this won't be a problem. If you are seeing a provider for the first time, have your medical history prepared. In the week leading up to the encounter, keep a list of past diagnoses, surgeries, and hospitalizations along with the year they occurred. Most importantly, write down all your medications. I frequently advise patients to create a photo album on their phone and take a picture of the pill bottle for every active medication they take (this can also work for children or elderly parents). When they show it to me, I can see the medication name, dosage, instructions, expiration date, prescriber’s name, and pharmacy. This saves me a LOT of time when adding medications to the electronic health record. 

If you are transferring your care to a new provider, have your old records sent over. Remember, they are your records, and you are responsible for getting them to your new doctor. If you’ve had any radiology studies or biopsies, have the images uploaded to a CD and bring them to your new doctor's office (bonus if you have them sent before your visit!).

Before the visit, call the office and ask if any forms will need to be filled out when you get there. Most will answer yes, and many will be able to email you the forms to complete at home and bring to the visit with you. This is a great way for you to take time completing the form and putting a lot of thought into your answers. You may miss an important detail if you are feeling rushed filling out forms in the office waiting room.

Healthcare providers spend a large portion of their training learning how to listen to a patient. There is good reason for that. Most of the time a diagnosis can be made simply by listening to what the patient says. As a patient, you should be ready to provide information and give details about your symptoms. Keep a log of your symptoms showing how you feel and when your symptoms occur.  

If you follow these tips above, you'll not only make the most out of your visit, but you will show your doctor many thanks and respect for their time. After all, they want to leave work on time just like you!

Joseph Ciavarro