Going to the doctor can be a bit nerve-wracking sometimes. Whether you’re going for a specific issue or symptom, or just having your annual checkup, it’s important to feel ready and to know how to communicate efficiently with your doctor to ensure a productive visit. Consider these five tips on how to best prepare for your next appointment.

Sarah Bird1. Bring a List of Questions.

Have you ever come into a doctor’s appointment with questions in mind, but they fly out of your head as soon as you get there? Try writing down a list of the questions you want to ask your doctor so you have it to reference at your appointment. Put your most pressing or highest priority questions at the top of the list to ensure that you have time to address them.

2. Stay Up to Date on Your Health Records.

Even though your doctor probably has your health history on file, it’s helpful for you to have it in the back of your mind as well. Some things to be aware of: when was your last mammogram or pap smear? When was your last colonoscopy? Are you up to date on vision and dental checks? Have you had all of your vaccines?

Dr Scott Jamison3. Use the Portal.

A lot can happen in between visits with your doctor. Most doctor’s offices have an online portal for patients to use to access all of their health and appointment information, as well as to communicate with their provider. An online health portal is a great way to engage with your doctor in between visits or if you have any concerns that arise.

4. Communicate Honestly.

Transparency is key when it comes to the relationship between you and your doctor. Speak openly and honestly about your symptoms. Be truthful and direct about what you are realistically willing and not willing to do in terms of treatment. This way, your doctor can develop a treatment plan that fits your needs.

karrie intensive

5. Leave Your Appointment with Clear Direction.

It’s all too common to walk out of a doctor’s appointment thinking, “Wait, now what?” Make sure you leave with a clear understanding of how to proceed. Is getting blood work the next step? Do you need to be referred to another provider? When are you supposed to come back for another visit?

Effective communication between you and your physician is the best way to ensure an efficient and thorough checkup. Keeping these tips in mind for future visits will help you stay informed and involved in your own care and treatment.