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?

+++UPDATE+++
Your tips in action: Tips shared in the discussion below made this video. It's great advice: For patients by patients.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Visiting Mayo Clinic group.

@roch

Great idea to prepare information on how to prepare. I hope you ask some appointment coordinators, nurses and doctors for their input also.

I try to be as prepared for any questions the doctor might ask and have a list of questions for the doctor. The more prepared I am, the more efficient the appointment will be. I would rather have too much information with me then not enough.

Think back to other doctors' appointments, what questions did the nurse or doctor ask. Be prepared to answer those questions again.

I have been a patient of Mayo my entire life, and all my information is online, I still bring the following list to my appointment just in case. Even though information is online, it does take time for a doctor to find. If he wants to look up details, it is nice to have dates of previous tests, etc…

My suggestions:

1. Make sure your appointment is with right specialist. At Mayo the appointment coordinators should be able to help. Just because a friend saw a certain doctor, he/she might not be correct specialist for your condition.
2. Have your referring doctor send all medical records (preferable electronically). In addition, bring a copy with you just in case something gets misplaced. Again, preferable on a disk.
3. In addition, I always have the following with documents with me:
○ List of all medications I take, who prescribed, why I take that medication, how long I have taken that medication.
○ If there are other medications I have taken in recently that I no longer take, it is nice to have that information also. Maybe your previous doctor recommended something and it did not work. You want your new doctor to know this information.
○ Your list should include all prescribed and over the counter medication.
○ You might want to bring all the bottles with you so there is no question about dosages.
○ List of all allergies
○ List of all surgeries, date and location.
○ List of all medical conditions, when diagnosed and are you still being treated for this condition. A specialist is not there to treat all your problems, but something may be related to your current problem.
4. Write down your understanding of current problem and list of symptoms. Be specific.
a. When did symptoms start
b. How are you treating the symptoms
c. Does anything make them worse or better.
d. What tests have been done for current problem, date, location, results
5. Write down your questions related to current problem in order of importance. At end of appointment, look through your list and see if they have been answered.
6. Take notes, the doctor's summary will be available online after your appointment. If he tells you something and you do not know how to spell it, ask him to write it down.

If your appointment is at Mayo, and you use the internet register for the Mayo Portal. It is great reference to double check appointment information, fill out forms, check results and see doctor notes. Even if you fill out form online, also bring information to appointment. And if use a smart phone, download app.

Hope this helps.
Laurie

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I am meeting Monday morning with a neurosurgeon at Mayo re a diagnosis of a brain tumor on the optic chiasm. Great list to use. I have completed several suggestions and am making my list.

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@kmart

I am meeting Monday morning with a neurosurgeon at Mayo re a diagnosis of a brain tumor on the optic chiasm. Great list to use. I have completed several suggestions and am making my list.

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kmart–I found it especially helpful to write down questions as they popped into my mind over several weeks, rather than waiting until just before the visit. That way, I didn't miss anything I wanted to ask. For me, having the written questions ( a copy for me, a copy for the cardiologist)made the difference, because I didn't have any questions unanswered after my visit. I also researched particular aspects of my condition so that I could ask informed questions. For example, "What role does collateral circulation play in coronary artery blockage"?

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Thank you so much. I have been researching and need to begin writing down questions (so far only thinking of questions.)

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@contentandwell

@rosemarya @hopeful33250 As Teresa said, doctors are people too, and I think they appreciate hearing we recognize that. My gynecologist is great, we always share a bit of personal info and one time I told him how fortunate I felt to have a number of very caring doctors. He stopped what he was doing and immediately responded that I was an easy person to care about, which made my day too!
Once on my way to my appointment with my surgeon, not too long after my transplant, I was thinking about the difference in me from the first time we met, prior to transplant, to now. I commented to him that it must be very gratifying for him when he sees patients so healthy after transplant, and he sort of beamed and said it really is.
I think many people do not see the human side of doctors so when a patient makes a positive comment like that they enjoy it.
JK

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@tim1028

To follow up on my earlier post about writing down questions for the specialist. I had a consultation with a cardiologist this week. I had written down questions as I thought of them during the weeks prior to the appointment, then consolidated them and prioritized their importance. I also had copies of cardiac-related results he might want to refer to. The visit went very well and he and I were able to focus on my questions and their answers. One useful question that I included at the end of my list was: "Is there anything that I haven't asked that you think is important for me to know about my cardiac condition?"

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That's the golden nugget, @tim1028. I'm going to use a variation of that final question often in the future for appointments whether they be for me or a family member —

"Is there anything that I haven't asked that you think is important for me to know about my XXXX?"

Brilliant. Thank you.

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@colleenyoung

That's the golden nugget, @tim1028. I'm going to use a variation of that final question often in the future for appointments whether they be for me or a family member —

"Is there anything that I haven't asked that you think is important for me to know about my XXXX?"

Brilliant. Thank you.

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@tim1028 I think we will all be wrapping up our questions with that one. Perfect.
JK

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@tim1028

kmart–I found it especially helpful to write down questions as they popped into my mind over several weeks, rather than waiting until just before the visit. That way, I didn't miss anything I wanted to ask. For me, having the written questions ( a copy for me, a copy for the cardiologist)made the difference, because I didn't have any questions unanswered after my visit. I also researched particular aspects of my condition so that I could ask informed questions. For example, "What role does collateral circulation play in coronary artery blockage"?

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I also find that having someone accompany me to the appointment is helpful. My husband has been my extra set of ears, eyes, and note taker.

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@colleenyoung

That's the golden nugget, @tim1028. I'm going to use a variation of that final question often in the future for appointments whether they be for me or a family member —

"Is there anything that I haven't asked that you think is important for me to know about my XXXX?"

Brilliant. Thank you.

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Why don't we ever think to say ask that? I bookmarked it!

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@tim1028

kmart–I found it especially helpful to write down questions as they popped into my mind over several weeks, rather than waiting until just before the visit. That way, I didn't miss anything I wanted to ask. For me, having the written questions ( a copy for me, a copy for the cardiologist)made the difference, because I didn't have any questions unanswered after my visit. I also researched particular aspects of my condition so that I could ask informed questions. For example, "What role does collateral circulation play in coronary artery blockage"?

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Tim, that is exactly what I do. My doctor even commented that he appreciates my preparation with a typed list of questions and a pen handy to write down the answers. Doctors like it when a patient also wants to put in the effort to get well again.

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My first goal would be to see of the new doctor has an open mind. This is important when trying to find a solution of an issue if the standard medical approaches do not solve the problem. Then meds becomes the solution of choice which only hides the problem. This is when you need a doctor who is willing to discuss solutions/causes that are outside of his realm. No doctor can keep up with the multitude of studies, cures, etc. that are out there so if the patient has done research that suggests a possible solution a good doctor should be open to discuss and go over the research with the patient. Most doctors won't do this but there are some out there that will. Unfortunately our medical society is too much into using drugs to cure/hide the real cause of problems. Myself, I want solutions and not band aids for medical issues.

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@bkruppa

My first goal would be to see of the new doctor has an open mind. This is important when trying to find a solution of an issue if the standard medical approaches do not solve the problem. Then meds becomes the solution of choice which only hides the problem. This is when you need a doctor who is willing to discuss solutions/causes that are outside of his realm. No doctor can keep up with the multitude of studies, cures, etc. that are out there so if the patient has done research that suggests a possible solution a good doctor should be open to discuss and go over the research with the patient. Most doctors won't do this but there are some out there that will. Unfortunately our medical society is too much into using drugs to cure/hide the real cause of problems. Myself, I want solutions and not band aids for medical issues.

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I really like how you put this. When a person has a difficult diagnosis, I find when I can find a doctor who is able to listen well (as I sometimes need to verbally process information and ask questions) it really makes a wonderful difference! I need to take time before an appointment to be prepared and I utilize emailing between appointments, also. It takes time, effort, patience and sometimes some insistence with medical facilities to get where you need to be. It can be tiring and rewarding when you find the right combination.

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