Working at a doctor’s office gives people the impression that you’ve received medical training the same as any nurse. I have to remind people over and over that I’m not a doctor, and I cannot give medical advice. But I have picked up a couple of useful tips that I wish more people knew about managing their own healthcare.
The biggest complaint I receive from patients is that they don’t know how to communicate with their doctor, and they often come away from their appointments with only a vague understanding of their problem. Even though you may feel like you’re being rushed, you need to speak up! You have a right to know and understand what’s going on with you.
You’re also allowed to do your own research although I urge you to proceed with caution- there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so take what you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. I don’t advise trying to diagnose yourself, but I do encourage gathering more background information so you can ask the right questions during your appointment. Your doctor might also be able to provide with a starting point in your research, or have access to resources that may be able to provide you with more information and/or support.
Managing your healthcare is really a collaborative effort between you and your healthcare provider (see here for more reasons on why this is important). They have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat ailments, and you have the working knowledge of your own body and mind to help decide what treatment is best for you. Should you take your doctor’s advice? Probably. But they don’t always have time and funding to do the legwork to seek out second opinions, treatment opinions, alternative therapies, or insurance resources you may need or want. Sometimes it’s up to you to take the reins.
Being an active and engaged patient also helps improve your relationship with your doctor. Be honest. Share things about your life. These are all important methods of communicating what’s going on with you, and it actually might make a big difference in the long run.
It’s also the nurses, pharmacists, therapists, counselors and support staff like myself that are assisting the doctors behind the scenes. The more they know you the better they understand what your healthcare needs are, and these relationships in turn might help give you insight into the inner workings of your particular healthcare system.
Going to a doctor’s office can be scary and intimidating- believe me, just because I work for a doctor doesn’t mean I feel any better when I see my own- but knowing what to anticipate, understanding more about the system, and building a working relationship with your doctor can hopefully lead you to a clean bill of health, as well as a sense of empowerment.
And that’s the kind of thing that in my job that keeps me satisfied.
I firmly believe that the key to staying healthy is leading a balanced lifestyle. It’s something I’m constantly trying to achieve in my own life, and from time to time I like to share my trials and tribulations here.