I hope this post finds you well. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have seen 35 doctors in the last four years alone. This means, despite my aversion to new patient paperwork and doctor’s waiting rooms, I have pretty much mastered the art of being a patient. Along the way I have learned some tips and tricks that make the process go a lot smoother, and I’m sure your doctor’s office will appreciate your effort, which never hurts! I might sound like I’m mothering you a bit in this post, but I promise these tips will make your appointments go a lot smoother.
It’s better to be pre-pre-prepared:
Anyone who get’s the above office reference is an excellent human. But in all seriousness, I find it’s best to do everything possible ahead of the day of your actual appointment, that way, the day of the appointment itself is much less overwhelming. Especially if you struggle in the mornings like I do, make sure that you have your driver’s license, insurance card, and a list of your current medications with you in your purse/bag.
My other suggestion is to make every effort to fill out any new patient paperwork ahead of time. A lot of doctor’s offices will have new patient forms available online, will email them to you upon request, or give them to you when you set up the appointment. I try and fill them out the day before my appointment so that the information is current, and fresh in my mind. If your doctor lets you submit the forms online through a portal, I usually do this so that the information is already in their system when I arrive. This expedites the whole check-in process, and will likely make the receptionist quite happy.
Arrive Early and Keep info Together:
Call me just another apple robot, but their Notes, Mail, and Calendar tools that sync through the cloud make organization much easier. If you don’t have apple products, you can obviously use similar tools like Google calendar and Gmail (which I also use) to keep things organized. Once I have made a new appointment, I like to enter it in my calendar with all relevant information. I include the exact address (with the suite number), and will add a reminder if I have a particularly busy week to make sure I don’t forget.
I will then create a contact with all information including the doctor’s full name, address, and email. If I ever get a call from reception or a nurse in the meantime, I add this to the contact under the “other” category to ensure that I always know it’s a doctor’s office calling, and not a telemarketer. In the picture below, you can see I have my doctor’s name, phone and fax numbers, address, and details to get to his exact office. This system has saved me on numerous occasions because I’m not the best with directions or remembering where things are, so preparation is key! Since I have had upwards of thirty doctors in different cities, I always try and keep a description so I know “oh this was that gynecologist I saw sophomore year” or whatever the case may be.
I also advise getting to new patient appointments at least a half hour early. You never know if there will be traffic, if you will be able to find the right building, etc. Many things can go wrong, so I advise leaving early to give yourself a buffer. Especially if you haven’t had the chance to fill out new patient paperwork ahead of time, many doctors will request that you arrive a half hour early to allow for this.
If I have a lot of information I want to share with the doctor or questions, I will write those in a note ahead of time, and review this and keep it available so that when the doctor asks if I have any questions, I am prepared! I have even had doctors thank me for being organized and prepared! *insert smug face here* Jk, but it honestly makes a big difference if you show that you realize that their time is available, and make the most out of it.
Prepare to Wait:
I have rarely been to a new doctor and walked straight into a room to be seen. I have waited anywhere from 15 minutes, to 2+ hours to be seen by a doctor. This is a lot of dead time. When I was a student, I would often bring homework, or school books so that I could read or organize my notes while I waited. Now that I’m out of school, I always try and either bring a book, or some headphones. I like to listen to podcasts while I wait, so a good set of headphones are key so you’re not that obnoxious person with your phone on full volume in the waiting room. I also like to remember to bring a sweater. I am always cold, and doctor’s offices can be like an ice box. Dress appropriately and remember that you could be there a while.
I hope these tips help and stick in your mind for the next time you go see a doctor or specialist! Have I missed any? Let me know your tips in the comments below!