One of the most important relationships we have outside of family and friends are the ones we share with our doctors and practitioners.  In this era of patient-centered care, the focus to the patients’ expectations on their doctor/practitioner have now outweighed the expectation of the doctor on the patient. So, is this a good thing? Yes and no. Like any good relationship it takes 2 parties to make it work. The best relationships are formed and continue to grow based on how the parties interact.

These 10 points will help empower you, the patient to better control your destiny in these situations. It is your health after all.

1. Before your appointment make a list of questions. Make it no longer than 5 but realize you will probably only get to 3. Focus on what matters most.

Hint: Think about your objective for the appointment and don’t let it get lost in your quest to be cured instantly.

2. Always aim to be the first patient of the day (this is also applicable to surgery).

Why? Everyone is fresh and open-minded. Your doctor has not been jaded by 10 other patients and this is your opportunity to start his or her day off on the right foot.

3. Listen after you ask a question, do not ramble on.

The art of the pause is very important as it allows the professional to regroup his or her thoughts and shows respect on your end.

4. Do not bring your own research or opinions from Dr. Google.

Instead use your research to form your questions. Remember you are not an expert nor is your doctor on everything, but you are the expert on you.  As well, don’t push for what you perceive to be the issue. Use the appointment time wisely to explore and take the proper next steps.

How to phrase your own findings: I wanted to understand what I was experiencing, and found this online – what do you think?

5. Look your doctor or practitioner in the eye when you greet and speak to them.

Accept the same in return.Jumping right in with issues gets everyone on edge for no reason. Eye contact changes the way we respond and lowers our cortisol levels.

6. Ask your doctor or practitioner how they are.

Acknowledgement that we are all the same human species makes for a level playing field so all parties feel more comfortable.

7. If you don’t like your doctor or have a personality clash get a new one – you are doing everyone a favour.

The other reasons that may call for this are:

A. Wait times to see him or her

B. Your first language is not English – find someone who speaks your mother tongue

C. The support staff make you uncomfortable or continuously make errors

D. The doctor has poor listening skills

8. No one is perfect.

If something is not working or makes you uncomfortable it is your life/health. Speak directly to your doctor/practitioner and resolve or move on. Many people feel intimidated by a doctor or practitioner – if your intuition says something or you were not understood speak up.

Is it your intuition or you?

A. Are you looking to hear something your doctor is not telling you?

B. Are you not listening?

C. Looking for an excuse not to get well and avoid the doctor’s office

9. Don’t look for problems.

Maybe you are having emotional issues or hate your job. Yes, you can manifest something and get pills, but remember the saying: Be careful what you wish for.

If you are having any issues – change your appointment and maybe take a day off instead.  Sometimes, the doctor serves as a friend/psychologist.  Because of the nature of how a practice is set-up they are limited for time.  You must acknowledge this as well, and ensure that what you are asking is valid and within their scope.

Pills do not solve life problems. A prescription to be happier and take a walk just might…

10. A good patient forms a bond with a practitioner/doctor that allows him or her to grow with that practice and as health issues occur call upon that professional for help.

However, you are first and foremost responsible for your health. Take it seriously as your life depends on it.

A doctor is just a human with a different skill set.  Often we put too much on their shoulders, when in fact it truly starts with ourselves.  Before you do to your appointment audit your lifestyle: food, sleep, habits… be honest and also share these with your doctor.

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