How to Navigate Doctor's Appointments: 5 Tips for Advocating for Yourself and Managing Stress
We all know that going to the doctor can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for those of us who deal with chronic conditions. Many have had negative experiences with doctors and other medical staff members that have left a bad taste in our mouths and made it harder to seek help in the future. We might be facing scary or uncertain situations in our health that make us hesitant to make appointments or nervous for said appointments. It can be hard in this day and age to advocate for ourselves in medical settings. Here are some tips and tricks on how to better advocate for yourself when you're struggling at an appointment or procedure.
1. Speak up about how you feel- it’s okay to admit you’re nervous, anxious, scared, or frustrated. It can help the doctor, nurse or other staff member know what’s going on for you and be better able to help you through the experience.
2. Ask for what you need! If you need them to reexplain something, to slow down, to walk you through the process then ask. You are also able to ask them to stop what they’re doing. It can be scary to ask for these things, some might find asking at the beginning of the appointment to be easier. Try saying something like “I’m feeling really nervous for my appointment today, I’d like you to walk me through everything you’re doing”
3. Bring someone for support- this can be tricky during COVID, but you can always ask your doctor’s/ hospital’s policy on bringing a parent, partner, or friend along for your appointment or procedure. It can be helpful to talk to your support person beforehand about how they can best support you during the appointment.
4. Write out a list of questions or concerns ahead of time to discuss with your provider. It’s easy to get to the doctor and forget all of the questions you had thought to ask in the weeks leading up to the appointment. It can be really helpful to write up a list or make a note on your phone of questions you have, the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, or things you’d like to address with your doctor.
5. Don’t be afraid to find a new doctor. I understand that this can be easier said than done, with restraints from insurance, location, scheduling, and financial concerns. However, if you feel as though you aren’t being heard or respected by your doctor or if you feel you would benefit from a different approach don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. Maybe even someone in the same practice could be a better fit for you!
Blog post written by Anna Finnegan, LSW of Green Door Therapy.