How to get the most from your visit to the doctor

Here are our 10 tips on how to get the most from your visit to the doctor.

1.    Find a GP who suits you. Asking your friends can be the best way to find your kind of doctor.

2.    Make a list of what you want to ask the doctor. It’s easy to forget the most important things during a visit.

3.    Practice describing the symptoms you are feeling. Your GP will probably ask questions such as:

  • When did it start?
  • How does it feel?
  • Did this ever happen before?
  • What have you done about it so far?
  • Are you on any medicines at the moment?

4.    Arrive informed. It is a good idea to search for information on the topic before you see your GP. But remember that some information on the internet cannot be trusted. You can also speak in confidence with a specialist cancer nurse by calling the National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700.

5.    Don’t be embarrassed. Some symptoms are hard to talk about. If you have a lump on your testicles, say so. Your doctor has heard it all before.Be honest.  It can also be difficult to tell your doctor about other concerns you might have. For example, you might not be able to understand the medical information. You need to be honest for your GP to give you the care you need.

6.    Listen to what they say. Most people pick up less than half of what their doctor has told them during a visit. It can help if you write down the important points you have talked about.

7.    Ask questions. If you don’t understand don’t be ashamed.

8.    Don’t let yourself feel rushed. GPs can be busy and their body language can sometimes make it hard for you to get through everything. Be sure to get your questions answered, but be realistic about how much you can get through in one appointment.

9.    Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Trust your GP, but take action if you are not happy with the answers you are getting. If you have something that is not normal for you, it’s important that you get to the bottom of it. Ask for an appointment with a specialist if you want a second opinion. Then explain why you want a second opinion


Your local pharmacist can be a great source of information. They can help with your healthcare questions and advise on medicines. So get the best from your pharmacist too, they’d be happy to help.

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