Last week was National Conversation Week in the UK, and we thought it was a good time for us to discuss the importance of talking with your healthcare provider.
For many the thought of a ten-minute GP appointment is daunting – especially if you are feeling embarrassed about your symptoms or condition! So we’ve put together some top tips to help you get the most out of your GP appointment.
See the right person.
We understand that seeing the same GP for all of your appointments is just not an option at most busy GP surgeries, but if possible, we’d recommended seeing the same GP for the full duration of one issue. It’s also worth considering if your GP is the right person to visit. Are you needing vaccinations for a holiday? If so the Travel Clinic is the best place to visit. Are you due a cholesterol check? A Healthcare Assistant may be your best bet for that.
Work with your doctor, not the internet.
Although it’s great to understand your body better, self-prescribing using the internet can lead to skewed symptoms which can align with your self-diagnosis – this can prolong the search for your actual diagnosis. If you have an idea of what may be wrong with you, by all means share this with your doctor, after all you know your body the best, but try to remain factual when it comes to your symptoms.
Don’t be embarrassed.
Being embarrassed when it comes to intimate issues is common, but it’s worth remembering that your body isn’t the first, and it definitely won’t be the last that your GP has seen, touched, or prodded. This can especially be the case when it comes to urological or gynaecological conditions. But remember, your doctor is the expert and has seen it all before, so try to work with them so embarrassment doesn’t create a barrier to your diagnosis.
Try not to bring a list, but if you need to, book a double appointment.
Most GP practices don’t recommend seeing your doctor about multiple issues in one appointment, especially if they have nothing to do with each other. But sometimes multiple issues do arise at once, and this cannot be helped. If you have a number of issues to discuss with your GP and you don’t think they are related, speak to the receptionist when you book your appointment and explain that you might benefit from a double appointment, this way you’ll have enough time to discuss your treatment properly.
Take notes to and from the appointment.
Whatever condition you’re visiting your GP about, make sure you’re aware of its timeline. When did the condition start, how often does it reoccur, how painful would you say it was? These are all the types of questions your GP is likely to ask you, so preparing for this will help everyone! Similarly, taking notes from your GP appointment may be an effective way to remember all the information your doctor has given you.
Don’t understand your treatment plan? Ask questions.
It’s easy to walk away from your GP appointment with more questions than you went in with if you don’t fully understand your treatment plan. If you don’t initially understand your treatment plan, ask questions to make sure you leave understanding your next move. Maybe consider taking a notepad or diary to help remember key parts or dates of your plan if needed.