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How To Maximize Limited Time With Your Doctor

At The End Of The Appointment, Recap What Happened. Ask Where To Learn More. Keep Your Other Doctors To Date

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This is not the bset time to bring up a new subject because the doctor is likely running out of time. If a new subject cannot wait until the next appointment, ask the best way to contact the doctor about another subject that you'd like to discuss.  


At the end of each appointment, restate the following so you both know you understand what was talked about:

  • Your understanding of what was discussed during the appointment
  • What should happen next, and by whom. Include any agreed dates by which the agreed actions should occur.
  • Review screening tests that need to be ordered, medications which are being prescribed and lifestyle changes that you have agreed to make.
  • Ask the doctor if he or she has anything to add.


Make follow-up appointments before you leave the doctor's office -- even if it isn't for months from now. You'll have a better shot of picking a time that works for you (first thing in the morning is best). You won't waste time calling for an appointment.


If you would like more information about what is discussed during an appointment, or in general about your condition, symptoms and/or treatment, ask the doctor if he or she has any literature you can take home.

In addition, ask the doctor what website he or she would point you to. While Survivorship A to Z provides information about how to do medical research, the doctor may have a favorite site or sites for your particular situation. (See "To Learn More.")

If you are uncertain about what was discussed, or what to do next, let the doctor know. 

If additional questions come up once you get home, communicate with your doctor or the doctor's office to get your questions answered.


If you have more than one doctor, keep each one of them to date every time you see each doctor. One doctor may notice a change that is not important to what that doctor is treating, but may be important to another doctor. He or she may also want to change your drugs or treatment in a manner that another doctor may not find acceptable. We provide a System For Keeping Your Doctors Up To Date. If the system works for you, or you create one on your own, ask the doctor for a summary of the meeting to send to other doctors. If you do not want to use the system or one of your own, at least ask the doctor to send a report of the visit to your primary doctor. (If you have other suggestions for keeping doctors to date, please let us know by e-mailing to Survivorship A to Z)

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