I was rounding up my visit with Danielle (not real name) where we had touched on a lot of health issues bothering her.

We even managed to discuss the stress she was going through with the new supervisor at work.

I reach for the door handle and briefly glanced back to make sure that the computer had been logged off; patient privacy is not to be taken lightly these days.

I swing the door open when Danielle says “wait! I have one more question for you”. There we go again! I knew that second that I would be running late for my other appointments that day.

You have face time with your doctor and you should make the most of this opportunity but the tactic of “saving the best for last” will short- change you.

Instead of a skilled professional offering his or her expertise and opinion, you get a harried medical provider who is half listening to you while ferociously plotting how fast he or she would zoom out of the room to meet with the next patient.

To get the most from your next clinic visit, do yourself and your doctor a favor by using the 5 tips below:

1. Make a list of issues and concerns you want to bring up ahead of time.

2. On that list highlight 2-3 issues you would want addressed if time was in short supply.

3. Arrive for your appointment early so you can have time for filling out forms and intake of your medical history.

4. Bring up your most important questions early on.

5. If your doctor’s office offers digital communication via email or text, take advantage of it for the less urgent concerns you have in between visits.

Do not overwhelm them with questions though. I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys being slammed with emails.


About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


  • Making a list of questions ahead of time would be great, unless you’re like me. I always forget things & the moment I see my doctor, it all starts coming back.

  • I used to be guilty of the last minute question. Then I did start the advice you offer about writing down my important questions. However, my doctor, sweet as he is, still gives me stock answers, not ones that take me, specifically into account.

    • Sweet as your doctor is Kymberly, all he has on his mind right then and then is how to make it to the next patient on time.

  • Great, practical tips! It’s good to know that going to my doctor or my son’s doctor equipped with a list is highly recommended 😉

  • Great advice! I’m glad to see that’s it’s a good idea for me to come in with my list of questions. And I always take advantage of email for less pressing issues!

  • This is such a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing. I have an apt coming up and this time I’m going to be prepared with my list.

  • I wish we even had a doctor. None of them are taking any patients so we’re at the mercy of the walk-in clinic 🙁

    • I am so sorry to hear that. Some parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of doctors and other health care providers.

      The scope of the problem is beyond my pay grade.

      There are some tele-medicine outfits cropping up with the goal of helping to alleviate the problem but my experience is that folks want to see the doctor in person and not through some computer screen or over the phone.

    • The phone calendar tip is a good one. I will be using it for grocery shopping and organizing my life.

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