Does a scheduled doctor’s appointment fill you with anxiety? Do you ever leave your appointment with more questions than you had to begin with? You’re not alone! White coat syndrome can happen to the best of us– the key is to prepare yourself ahead of time so you can leave your appointments feeling better informed and at peace! Today, Dr. Peter DeNoble of Wayne, NJ shares his insights on what makes a more successful doctor-patient visit. We thank him for his time and advice.

“I think there are a lot of things that patients should be thinking about before heading into a doctor’s office, but most importantly you should be getting as much information as possible,” says Dr. DeNoble. “You need to figure out why you are coming to the doctor and what questions you have ahead of time.”

The key is to have a plan ahead of time. If you have questions, write them down so you don’t forget to ask your doctor. If you plan a visit, you probably have a lot on your mind already– and then you have your doctor explaining a bunch of different things to you at the same time! It can be extremely overwhelming and a total information-overload!

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“There’s no possible way you can get all the information you need in just 10 or 15 minutes,” says Dr. DeNoble. “This happens quite often and I try to repeat myself a lot in my office but I’m sure there are things I don’t repeat.”

If you’re a patient, if you think you heard something or you’re not sure what you heard from the doctor – or if you know you have a question that wasn’t answered – you have to ask it. Either ask to repeat something or clarify something if need be. Your doctor should try to explain your health in terms that you can understand– if he or she isn’t doing that, it’s in your best interest to simply ask! Don’t be intimidated by the medical jargon– this is your health and your body.

“Have the doctor clarify what you’re trying to understand,” says Dr. DeNoble. “That’s ultimately what you want to gather from a doctor’s visit, if nothing else. If you can’t walk away with useful information about what you were there for, then the visit is a failure– or it’s incomplete.”

Every patient should get as much value out of a doctor’s visit as possible. It’s your time, it’s your money, and you need to make sure that that information transcends. Oftentimes, doctors come in, and then they leave, and it’s almost as if you don’t want to interrupt them. But that’s your time as the patient.

“You have the right to ask the questions, clarify the questions that you may have, clarify the information that you think you heard, slow them down if you need to and, ultimately, it’ll prevent unnecessary follow-up visits because you’ll totally understand what happened the first time,” says Dr. DeNoble. “You’ll be totally on board with what the next steps are going to be for your individualized healthcare plan.”

Dr. DeNoble says that in his office he likes to write or draw pictures of things and structures. “Whether it’s trigger finger, carpal tunnel, or a fracture– I draw it out so that people have a visual. I know I do better visually, so hopefully that helps others too.”

At the end of the day, if your doctor isn’t explaining information in a way that’s making sense to you, ask the question. Don’t be afraid to ask a doctor to repeat what they’ve said. No question is too silly when it comes to your own health.

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