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Feature Article

Get the Most Out of Your Doctor Visit

By Sarah J. Swarts, MD

A doctor’s appointment can be a stressful experience, especially if you have concerns about your health. Here are some tips on what you can do to take the stress out of the visit, and come away with the information you need to better manage your health. 

What can you do to prepare for a visit to your doctor?

  • Prepare a list of questions or concerns that you want to discuss. It’s very easy to forget these questions when the appointment arrives.
  • Bring your blood glucose log and meter as well as a food record if you have one.
  • Bring a list of the medicines and over-the-counter medications you take.
  • Let your provider know if you are having problems.
  • Tell your doctor if you do not think you’ll be able to follow the treatment plan or goals set at the visit.

What should you review with your doctor?

  • Ask what your lab results show and what other labs you need.
  • Ask if you need to be on medication for blood pressure or cholesterol.
  • Discuss your goals – for blood glucoses, blood pressure and so forth.
  • Ask how often you need to check your blood sugar level.
  • Ask if you need to do anything different with your medications and eating habits when you exercise.
  • Discuss any problems you’re having with very high or very low blood sugar levels.
  • Talk about anything that’s getting in your way of your day-to-day diabetes management.
  • Discuss what you’d like to know more about or anything you need help with.
  • Ask if you need to see any other providers, such as an eye care provider or foot clinic.
  • Ask questions if you do not understand the plan.

Other important tips

  • If you are trying to lose weight, write down everything you eat and drink. Although this may seem like a lot of work, studies show that people who log their food lose more weight than people who do not.
  • Write down your goals. If you put things in writing, it makes them “more concrete.” 
  • Then make a plan – for example, write on your calendar when you are going to walk.  Then proactively troubleshoot any barriers to your plan, like the weather.
  • Answer questions honestly.  We would rather know the truth than hear what you think we want to hear.
  • If you can’t afford medications, please tell your provider.  There are patient assistance programs available and you may qualify for one.
  • "Diabetes distress” is very common in individuals with diabetes; this refers to all the fears that people with diabetes experience on a daily basis. It may be fear about low blood sugars or fear about your own health. If you think you are experiencing this, ask your provider or diabetes educator about a referral to behavioral health, which is a wonderful resource available in many Samaritan offices, including Samaritan Endocrinology. 

If you have diabetes, you’ll want to follow this schedule of health care-related visits. This will help you stay on top of your diabetes and all of your systems that can be affected by your condition.

  • Every 3 months: Doctor visit, with checks of your A1C, blood pressure and weight.
  • Every 6 months:  Dental exam and doctor visit for A1C check (if your A1C is stable).
  • Every year: Get your flu shot, eye exam, foot exam and kidney lab work done.

Dr. Swarts is an endocrinologist with Samaritan Endocrinology in Corvallis.

Got a question for your doctor? Reach out to your heath care provider through MyChart.
Download a handy list of what to bring to your next doctor’s appointment.