Your Tips on How to Get Off to the Best Start with a New Specialist

I’m looking for your best tips.
Starting a relationship with a new specialist can be daunting. You want to get off to a good start and ensure that you establish mutual respect and are able to develop trust. You want to know you’re in good hands. What is their expertise and experience? What research are they doing? Will they listen and consider your input?

How do you get off to the best start with a new provider? What suggestions would you tell a friend who is going to see a new doctor?

@tim1028

I think that it's a good idea to plan your visit by writing down questions, as you think of them, then making a list from the most important questions to the least important questions. Type the list, making two copies, one for you and one for the specialist. You get a limited amount of time, so don't bring up things that are irrelevant to the specific concerns you have for the specialist. Be brief, be blunt. By planning ahead, I can cram in a lot into a short visit. And these days, the visits are getting shorter and shorter.

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@tim1028 Couldn't agree more.

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@hedjhog

These are all great. I include caffeine use and vitamins. Maybe since the folks I see are because of a TBI, I bring a plate of gingered cinnamon crinkles – always puts the staff in a positive mood.

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Welcome @hedjhog. My uncle swears his chocolate chip cookies get him the best care. It sure helps the staff remember him.
I'd also like to invite you to this discussion group on Connect:
– Adult Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/adult-life-after-a-tbi/
I hope you'll hop on over and share your experience and status.

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@tim1028

I think that it's a good idea to plan your visit by writing down questions, as you think of them, then making a list from the most important questions to the least important questions. Type the list, making two copies, one for you and one for the specialist. You get a limited amount of time, so don't bring up things that are irrelevant to the specific concerns you have for the specialist. Be brief, be blunt. By planning ahead, I can cram in a lot into a short visit. And these days, the visits are getting shorter and shorter.

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tim1028, I also like to write down my questions. I also keep a list and I add to it between appointments.
I agree with the benefit of a typed or neatly written list for the specialist. On a first visit to a cardiologist, I also had my list that the nurse gave to the doctor before he came to see me., To my surprise, he had already read all my questions before he came into the room. He was able to work them into our conversation.

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@colleenyoung

Welcome @hedjhog. My uncle swears his chocolate chip cookies get him the best care. It sure helps the staff remember him.
I'd also like to invite you to this discussion group on Connect:
– Adult Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/adult-life-after-a-tbi/
I hope you'll hop on over and share your experience and status.

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@colleenyoung I have brought baked goodies to my doctor’s office at holiday time, and very nice bottles of wine for him.
JK

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@rosemarya

tim1028, I also like to write down my questions. I also keep a list and I add to it between appointments.
I agree with the benefit of a typed or neatly written list for the specialist. On a first visit to a cardiologist, I also had my list that the nurse gave to the doctor before he came to see me., To my surprise, he had already read all my questions before he came into the room. He was able to work them into our conversation.

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@rosemarya now, that’s a good doctor.
JK

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I have learned, that there is a line between Patient and Physician professionalism. I would not advocate bringing anything to any Physician; as it's not really appropriate! I have a friend who brings her Physician presents for his birthday, holidays, etcetera, and she thinks it's appropriate ,and that she deserves some reward! I just wouldn't cross that fine line; however, everyone has their own opinions and makes their own decisions about what they feel is right for themselves! I wish you the best in making your own decision in this matter! I didn't mean to persuade, or discourage your own decision I was honestly offering my best and honest opinion!
I hope this somehow helps you in making the best decision for yourself! Let me know how everything works out! I do however, bring my Physicians a complete list of questions and symptoms to every visit; so I can give my Physicians an idea of what has been happening with me since my last visit!

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@contentandwell

@colleenyoung I have brought baked goodies to my doctor’s office at holiday time, and very nice bottles of wine for him.
JK

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@contentandwell @colleenyoung

Probably.

Have you asked yourself what your motivation is for giving your doctor a somewhat extravagant gift? If it is being given because YOU are grateful for good service, perhaps a handwritten note of gratitude is better. One normally does not acknowledge the other's gratitude with gratitude. If the recipient is questioning your motive, that's another reason why you may not be receiving an acknowledgement. If the physician has a personal policy behind not acknowledging gifts (s/he wants to avoid the appearance of a conflict-of-interest, like favoring a patient in the eyes of staff), your doctor may be giving such things away to staff. It would be similar with gifts from pharmaceutical or medical device representatives… avoiding the appearance of a conflict-of-interest.

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@rachelanne

I have learned, that there is a line between Patient and Physician professionalism. I would not advocate bringing anything to any Physician; as it's not really appropriate! I have a friend who brings her Physician presents for his birthday, holidays, etcetera, and she thinks it's appropriate ,and that she deserves some reward! I just wouldn't cross that fine line; however, everyone has their own opinions and makes their own decisions about what they feel is right for themselves! I wish you the best in making your own decision in this matter! I didn't mean to persuade, or discourage your own decision I was honestly offering my best and honest opinion!
I hope this somehow helps you in making the best decision for yourself! Let me know how everything works out! I do however, bring my Physicians a complete list of questions and symptoms to every visit; so I can give my Physicians an idea of what has been happening with me since my last visit!

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@rachelanne Hi, I presume this is in response to my post. I have a number of physician friends who always get many gifts from patients so it did seem appropriate, particularly when he was going out of his way to be helpful. Some of the gifts that I have known them to get are quite costly too. I consider my gifts to be token type of gifts.
JK

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@elizm

@contentandwell @colleenyoung

Probably.

Have you asked yourself what your motivation is for giving your doctor a somewhat extravagant gift? If it is being given because YOU are grateful for good service, perhaps a handwritten note of gratitude is better. One normally does not acknowledge the other's gratitude with gratitude. If the recipient is questioning your motive, that's another reason why you may not be receiving an acknowledgement. If the physician has a personal policy behind not acknowledging gifts (s/he wants to avoid the appearance of a conflict-of-interest, like favoring a patient in the eyes of staff), your doctor may be giving such things away to staff. It would be similar with gifts from pharmaceutical or medical device representatives… avoiding the appearance of a conflict-of-interest.

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@elizm
I know of no physicians who do not accept holiday gifts. I appreciate the responses though.
JK

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@colleenyoung

These are all great tips in how to prepare for a visit. I'd like to dig a bit deeper. How do you develop rapport with a new doctor?

Coincidentally, I came across this article today.
Getting Your Doctor to Really See You https://thedoctorweighsin.com/getting-your-doctor-to-really-see-you/

It provides strategies about how you can, as a patient, get your doctor to engage with you as a person. It is divided into 3 parts:
– Individual flair can ignite conversation
– Appeal to the physician as both scientist and healer
– Let technology pave the path

How do you present yourself to your doctor to establish the kind of relationship you want?

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I just read the article you posted, @colleenyoung, and it made some great points. I have heard it said that doctors want to know not only what your problems/symptoms are, but how they are impacting your life.

For example, if you have always played tennis and are quite proficient at it, let your doctor know about your skill at tennis and that your shortness of breath (or pain in your shoulder, knee, etc.) is now keeping you from something that you really love and enjoy. This will give the doctor some context in which to see you as a person who wants to be active and alive and not just someone in pain.

Doctors appreciate seeing who you are in relationship to your physical symptoms.

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Okay: I appreciate that the specialist's time is valuable, so I bring a typed succinct history of the injury, symptoms, treatments. I leave it with the Doctor and make sure I do not expect them to use it unless it will help them. I also leave a copy for the staff. I have learned to direct questions to the staff first and not the doctor.

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@hedjhog

Okay: I appreciate that the specialist's time is valuable, so I bring a typed succinct history of the injury, symptoms, treatments. I leave it with the Doctor and make sure I do not expect them to use it unless it will help them. I also leave a copy for the staff. I have learned to direct questions to the staff first and not the doctor.

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@hedjhog Would you amplify on your reasons for directing questions to the staff rather than the doctor?

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I am a patient at a group practice for an eye condition. So, I don't always see the same specialist. At my appointment last month, I was treated by one of the doctors that I don't usually see. Right away, I observed how he interacted with his staff in the hallway, and the tone of his conversations and bounce in his step. His time with me was efficient and professional. He clearly explained my treatment, even though my charts showed that I have been receiving these treatments for quite a few years.
At the end of my appointment, I told him that I could see how much he enjoyed what he was doing. He paused for a moment. I think I took him by surprise. He said, "I do love what I do" And he told me about some memorable experiences. Before he left, he smiled and thanked me for asking.
I have a follow-up in a couple months, but don't know which doctor I am going to see.

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@rosemarya

I am a patient at a group practice for an eye condition. So, I don't always see the same specialist. At my appointment last month, I was treated by one of the doctors that I don't usually see. Right away, I observed how he interacted with his staff in the hallway, and the tone of his conversations and bounce in his step. His time with me was efficient and professional. He clearly explained my treatment, even though my charts showed that I have been receiving these treatments for quite a few years.
At the end of my appointment, I told him that I could see how much he enjoyed what he was doing. He paused for a moment. I think I took him by surprise. He said, "I do love what I do" And he told me about some memorable experiences. Before he left, he smiled and thanked me for asking.
I have a follow-up in a couple months, but don't know which doctor I am going to see.

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What a great experience, Rosemary! Doctors are people too and enjoy being able to share about themselves.

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@rosemarya

I am a patient at a group practice for an eye condition. So, I don't always see the same specialist. At my appointment last month, I was treated by one of the doctors that I don't usually see. Right away, I observed how he interacted with his staff in the hallway, and the tone of his conversations and bounce in his step. His time with me was efficient and professional. He clearly explained my treatment, even though my charts showed that I have been receiving these treatments for quite a few years.
At the end of my appointment, I told him that I could see how much he enjoyed what he was doing. He paused for a moment. I think I took him by surprise. He said, "I do love what I do" And he told me about some memorable experiences. Before he left, he smiled and thanked me for asking.
I have a follow-up in a couple months, but don't know which doctor I am going to see.

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I had a similar experience with my oncologists. There were 3 oncologists that came to our local hospital. I really preferred to meet with one of the doctors. If i was sceduled on a day when one of the other doctors was at the clinic, i would call and ask them to reschedule me for a day when my preferred doctor was at the clinic. If you really like a specific doctor, ask to be scheduled with that doctor. It may not work out, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

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