Tips for self-advocacy when talking to your doctor
When you’re in a medical setting, you’re probably thinking about your health care provider as the expert room. But you’re also an expert in this situation! You know you best — your symptoms, experiences and history — and it’s important to make your voice heard.
Advocating for yourself in a medical setting is sometimes easier said than done, though, especially if you’re dealing with a major diagnosis or feel anxious about doctor visits. A little preparation can go a long way to help you feel more confident speaking up for yourself when you’re talking to medical professionals. Here are some tips to help you work on the habit of advocating for yourself and your health:
Know what you want to get out of your appointment.
Are you establishing care with a new provider? Getting an annual checkup? Feeling sick or experiencing new symptoms and need a diagnosis? Explain your concerns to staff when you schedule your appointment so they can ensure you’ll have plenty of time with your provider.
Prioritize your concerns.
You might have a few different, unrelated problems you want to ask your doctor about, but in most cases, they will be able to address one or two in a single appointment. Think about which ones impact your daily life the most and make those your top priority.
Keep track of symptoms.
When you have a record of symptoms, you can feel more confident explaining what’s happening to your doctor. Create a notebook in Kith + Kin to record any symptoms and other important details that can help your doctor better understand your needs.
Write down questions ahead of time.
Use Kith + Kin’s “Question” Smart Item to make a note of your questions when you think of them. During your appointment, you can simply ask questions from your list in the app and make note of the answers, all in one place. It’s ok to ask your provider to repeat themselves if you missed something, or to ask the question again if you think they didn’t answer completely.
Know your history.
If you’re seeing a new provider, they might not have a complete picture of your health history. They can request records from past providers, of course, but when you keep your own records as well, you can fill in critical information. In Kith + Kin, upload and store copies of medical records, notes from past appointments, test results and other details that might not be included in official records from providers.
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Additional resources to help you make your voice heard in medical settings: