How To Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit

Doctor showing African American patient information on a tablet inside an exam room.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you're prepared for a doctor visit.

Try these things to make sure you and your doctor cover everything in your next appointment:

1. Make a list of what you want to discuss. For instance, do you have a new pain, new bump or rash, trouble sleeping, or other symptoms? Have you seen a specialists or had a major life event?

2. Take notes. And if you don’t understand something, ask.

3. Be honest and detailed. Keep in mind, what you say is confidential and helps you get appropriate care.

4. Don't be embarrassed. Your doctor has already heard everything you might possibly say. If you plan to discuss a personal topic, practice in advance. For example, once you’ve said it to your mirror a few times, it’s easier to say, "I have rectal bleeding."

5. Keep an open mind. Don’t come in with a fixed idea about treatment or next steps.

6. Bring all your medications—prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal remedies or supplements. Or, bring a list of everything you take and the dose. Let the doctor know about medications you have tried that caused side effects or didn't work.

7. Consider bringing a family member or friend for another set of ears.

8. Request an interpreter if the doctor doesn’t speak your language.

9. Bring your insurance card.

Seeing this doctor for the first time?

Get off to the right start with this guidance:

Introduce yourself to the doctor and office staff. They are your partners in care.

Learn which days are busiest and what times are best to call. Ask what to do if there is an emergency, or if you need a doctor when the office is closed.

Share your medical history, including illnesses, operations, medical conditions and other doctors you have seen. Your doctor will likely have you complete a medical history form and sign a form to get medical records from other providers. Be sure to go early to allow time to fill out forms.