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Coping With Busy Doctors

Getting more from our appointments with busy doctors

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

We're all familiar with the problems

  • There aren't enough experienced doctors for those of us with headache and Migraine problems.
  • It can take months to get an appointment with a specialist.
  • Doctors have limited time to spend with each patient.
  • Sometimes, the best of practitioners come across a bit brusque and uncaring, even if they're really not.
  • Sometimes we feel that the doctor has rushed in and out of the exam room, didn't really listen, and we didn't get a chance to talk or ask questions.

How can we get the most from our appointments with these doctors?

Be an active participant in your care
Who knows the patient best? Who spends the most time with the patient, has the best opportunities to observe symptoms, success or failure of treatment regimens, the total effects of the patient's illness? The patient.

The most important member of your healthcare team isn't your doctor — it's you.

Educate yourself:
Learn all you can about your condition. As you learn more, you'll know better what to expect, what to tell your doctor, etc. Also, learn about your medications. Your pharmacy should give you a patient information sheet with each prescription. Don't hesitate to ask questions at the pharmacy either. Your pharmacist is part of your healthcare team. In one of our online chats, Dr. William B. Young of the Jefferson Headache Center commented, "An informed patient is a better patient... I'd rather have a treatment partner than a dishrag."

Be observant and document, document, then document some more

  • Between appointments, be sure to note symptoms, reactions to medications, and other details. Also make note of questions you want to ask your doctor to help you remember them at your appointment. The more information you can give your doctor, the more benefit you'll get from your appointments.
  • Keep a note pad anywhere you might need one to make notes immediately so you don't forget details.
  • Along the way, transfer your notes into a word processing document so you can print it to take to your appointments. It's a good idea to leave space to make notes.
  • If your appointments are for headache and Migraine problems, you can print a diary or download it for use on your own computer by clicking HERE. The downloadable version is available for use in Word or Excel and can be modified to suit your preferences. It can also be adapted for other conditions and other doctors.
  • If others around you notice things that you don't notice, ask them to tell your or make notes for you also.
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