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Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment and thought, "Shoot, I didn’t mention that second or third thing I wanted to discuss"? Well, according to the National Institutes on Health, you aren’t alone.

On average, a patient gets roughly 18 seconds to talk before the doctor interjects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring it up again after s/he talks.

It is just many of us are then focused on one thing and forget to bring up the other items we wanted to address.

Let’s look at a couple of things you can do to set up your doctor’s appointment for success.

The first thing to think about is making a list of things you want to discuss and bring the list with you.

Just like making a list for your groceries, making a list of your health concerns will help you remember if you get off track during the conversation.

It would also be a good idea to prioritize the list and mention when you first walk in that you have x number of things that you want to discuss so that your doctor is prepared from the beginning of the appointment.

Be concise when talking about your concerns, especially if you need to discuss multiple things.

Be respectful of the doctor’s time just as you want him/her to be fully present with you during your appointment time.

If you feel rushed, say that you feel rushed.

Ask if you need another appointment if you have multiple things that need to be discussed.

Plan ahead and let your doctor know that you have multiple items on your list, so that they can allow for enough time to touch on each concern during your appointment.

Another tip that helps lead to better communication is being honest with your healthcare team.

For your doctor to give you their best care, you need to be honest about any symptoms, lifestyle choices and all medications and supplements that you may be taking. Bring a list of all medications, including any over-the-counter medications and supplements that you may take regularly.

Prepare questions ahead of time and write them down if you are afraid you will forget them once you are in the room. Understand that your doctor may not have all the answers, but ask questions about your health conditions.

Communication builds rapport and trust. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to seek further clarification if you are unclear about something the doctor said. It is also ok to respectfully disagree with your doctor and to seek a second opinion.

Set yourself up for success and wear glasses or hearing aids if they are needed to understand the information given. It is often a good idea to have a family member or friend go along with you.

It is a good practice to have two people hear what the doctor says as well as to have someone make sure all of the items you wanted discussed get addressed. The same is true if you need an interpreter. It is also important not to have any medical information missed due to language barriers. Either bring in someone you are comfortable with who can interpret for you, or call ahead to the doctor’s office to see if an interpreter is available.

Good communication between a patient and their doctor is an important part of improving or maintaining health.

By preparing for the appointment ahead of time, one can make sure their appointment goes as smooth as possible, and all of their concerns are addressed.

For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, visit the University of Illinois Extension website at web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/ or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or clbyers@illinois.edu.