5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Doctor in office with patient

You thought you were prepared. You had several questions ready to ask your doctor during your well-check visit — but when the time came, you couldn’t think of a single one.

If this happens to you, you are not alone. Don’t fret, though. There are several things you can do to make your visit more effective and get the most out of one-on-one time with your doctor. If you use the tips below, you’ll be prepared and at ease — and your doctor will appreciate that you’ve done your homework.

  • Be punctual

    1. Be punctual

    Arrive 15–20 minutes early for your appointment. Doing so will give you plenty of time to check in and have your vitals (height, weight, blood pressure) taken before your appointment time. It also will help you get as much time with your doctor as possible.

  • Write your questions down

    2. Write your questions down

    Before your appointment, write down any questions or concerns you want to talk about. These are too easy to forget if you try to rely on memory alone. Writing them down also helps you prioritize your questions so you’ll know what to ask first. Also, bring a list of all of your current medications, including herbs and dietary supplements — those count as medications.

  • share family health history

    3. Share your family health history

    Be sure your family health history is up-to-date. Share any changes or new conditions of your family members with your doctor. Your family history is a very important tool for predicting your risk for disease.  

  • relax

    4. Relax

    It’s natural to be nervous or anxious when visiting a doctor, but remember that we are here to help you. Try to relax as much as possible. Some patients even suffer from white-coat hypertension, which means their blood pressure rises higher than normal when they are in the doctor’s office. When you arrive, take a few deep breaths and remember that your doctor is on your get-well and stay-well team.

  • be honest

    5. Be honest

    Let’s be honest — many medical conditions are uncomfortable to discuss. But you should not be embarrassed to talk about anything with your doctor. Actually, leaving out details or lying to your doctor can be bad for your health because it affects your care, so tell your doctor everything. Honesty is definitely the best policy — especially for your health.

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Kathryn Teng, MD

Kathryn Teng, MD, is Director of the Center for Personalized Healthcare and leads Cleveland Clinic’s efforts to integrate personalized healthcare into standard practice.
  • Jeffrey A Crawford

    I’m 46, overweight, snore like a buzz saw and am sure I have some apnea. However, I sleep like a rock, rarely have any difficulty getting to or staying asleep, and wake rested, usually without an alarm. Why should I be concerned?

  • finkette61

    So can we get assistance for those of us that don’t have the “normal” sleep issues? How about us on the other end of the spectrum? I’m a night owl and can sleep for 10 -12 hours on the weekend. Problem is I have to work the normal 8-5 during the day . Ugh! Going to bed @ 2:00 am every night and able (NEEDING) to sleep for hours on end is not good. Been this way all my life. Other than being able to retire and sleep all day, what is my answer?

  • Carlene Byron

    People get shamed BY their doctors. How many other people have been treated as if we are mental incompetents when another doctor sees our list of psych meds? I actually had an orthopedist PANTOMIME his explanation of why my sister’s doctor was wrong about a health syndrome that runs in our family.

  • Carlene Byron

    Also: TBIs don’t increase your risk of getting mental illnesses. It’s more accurate to say that the symptoms of TBIs are like the symptoms of BP and there’s much more money available to treat BP than TBIs. But if you treat a TBI with BP meds, you can turn a competent professional into a drooler. I’ve seen it happen. I’d like to see the funding stream shift so TBIs can get proper treatment.

  • CIci Girl

    What can you do if you’re allergic to antibiotics? They make my throat swell.