How to Advocate for Yourself at the Doctor and Get the Healthcare You Need

Getting the care you need can be hard, but there are a few things you can do to up your chances for success.

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Take someone with you

It’s always helpful to take someone you trust with you when you go to the doctor. This will help you to make sure you remember everything that the doctor tells you, as well as providing you with emotional support during the appointment. If you, like me, struggle with standing your ground and sticking up for yourself it can be nice to have someone there who has your back. Also, doctor’s appointments are just inherently stressful, especially if you are trying to get a diagnosis to a complicated medical issue, and having someone with you can be comforting.

Do your research

While Google might not be a great first line of defense when you are having new symptoms, the internet can still be a helpful tool when it comes to finding a solution to your medical puzzle. As much as we would like them to, doctors don’t know everything, so if you have a condition that’s not common or isn’t turning up on their standard tests, some doctors might not even know where to look next. By doing your research you can find ideas for tests to ask for or conditions to explore.

Get a second, third, or even fourth opinion

If your needs aren’t being met by your current doctor don’t be afraid to seek out another one. Of course there are times when access to another doctor might be limited depending on your income or where you live, but if it is in your power it’s usually a good idea to get a second opinion, especially if the diagnosis your current doctor has come up with isn’t sitting right or their treatment plan isn’t working.

Take notes

It’s always helpful to write down everything that you want to bring up with the doctor before your appointment. Write down any tests you want to ask for, medication side effects that you’re having, treatments you’ve tried or want to try, or any other questions about your condition that you might have. You can make a list on your phone or on paper, whichever works better for you. Just make sure you go over it before you leave your appointment and double-check that you have mentioned everything.

Be persistent

Unless you are very wealthy and can go to a specialty clinic where you are getting concierge service, your doctor is probably not going to be as on top of your case as you would like. They have a lot of patients and you are only one of them. You will have to be very persistent when it comes to getting test results, medication refills, and making follow-up appointments. You might have to ask questions multiple times before you get an answer.

Writer. I talk about travel, mental health, and writing. Sometimes I’m funny, or at least that’s what my mom says. Visit: APassportAndAPencil.com

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