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How To Maximize Limited Time With Your Doctor

Learn How To Deal With Problems That May Arise In Meetings With Doctors

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Several problems that are fairly common and proposed solutions are listed below.

Problem: The doctor keeps interrupting you.


  • Ask for a chance to finish.
  • Have your list of subjects you want to discuss to help you keep on track. (We have a prioritizer to help you compile your list, and then prioritize it).
  • If interruptions continue, mention it politely. For example: "I want to hear your thoughts, but I'd appreciate if you'd let me finish. I will try to say this as briefly as I can."
  • If interruptions still continue, let the doctor know what you are feeling due to the constant interruptions and to ask that s/he consider that.

Problem: The doctor intimidates you.


  • Humanize the doctor by thinking of him or her at a vulnerable, human moment -- such as sitting on the toilet.
  • If you can pinpoint something specific that the doctor does which intimidates you, let the doctor know. Even if it doesn't change the behavior (after all, we are who we are), it may take the sting out of it for you.

Look at our videos by Meritt Oppenheim, How To Talk With Your Doctor for additional tips.

Problem: You feel overwhelmed during the appointment

If an appointment becomes overwhelming, tell the doctor you need to take a short break. 

  • Ask what is the maximum amount of time you can take without unduly disrupting the doctor's schedule.
  • Ask how to get hold of the doctor when you are ready to start again.
  • Consider going to another area such as the bathroom or waiting area. 

Problem: The doctor does not explain your condition or treatments in a manner that you understand.

  • Let the doctor know you are having difficult understanding what he or she is saying. It is better to say "I don't understand" instead of "You are not being clear about..."
  • If the doctor uses a word you don't understand, ask him or her to define it for you.
  • If you think you will understand better with pictures, ask to see X-rays or slides, or have the doctor draw a diagram.
  • To be sure you do understand what you are being told, you can repeat it back to the doctor starting with: "To be sure I understand, let me repeat to you my understanding."

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