Working with Your Primary Care Physician

It is important to get to know your primary care physician. Building a sustaining relationship is the foundation of working with your primary care physician. It is this familiarity that brings comfort and ease of communication that you don’t get when you book a doctor’s appointment with a stranger. In addition, your primary care physician will become aware of your health concerns and health history. Over time, he or she learns:

  • the nuances of your medical history
  • your reaction to medicines
  • your treatment preferences
  • your health goals
  • your lifestyle
  • whether or not a caregiver is supporting you in managing your health

As a general rule, primary care physicians like to converse with people. They enjoy getting to know the details about you such as your ideals, goals, ambitions, cares, and sorrows. They are genuinely interested in learning from you, the patient, rather than talking down to you and they make it a habit not to impose themselves on you. In doing so, they are committed to coordinating everyone involved in delivering the best care for you.

How should you interact with your primary care physician?

Be open and honest. You should not hide anything from your doctor. Your primary care physician should be someone that you trust and are able to communicate openly and freely. Remember that he or she has your best interest at heart and wants to hear about your health concerns and improvements so that the best possible recommendation can be made for the betterment of your quality of life.

Be prepared and ask questions. To make sure you and your doctor get the most out of your time, think about your visit ahead of time such as any concerns or questions that you may have. Write those things down before your visit then bring the list to your appointment and be sure to communicate those items on your list to your primary care provider. Don’t be afraid to speak up during your visit. You should always feel comfortable talking with your primary care provider. It’s important for you to let your doctor know if you don’t understand something. If you don’t ask questions, your doctor will think you understand everything. Should you run out of time, make a plan to get the rest of your questions answered such as asking to leave a message with the doctor or his nurse. You may want to schedule another appointment to ask the rest of your questions.

Follow your primary care providers advice. Your doctor is a good source of accurate information you can trust. It may be helpful to take home brochures or other educational materials with you or even written instructions to help you remember directives given by your primary care provider. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring a friend or family member to your visit. He or she can help write down information shared with you.

Stay up to date with regular visits and check-ups. It may be hard to remember to schedule yourself for your doctor’s visit, but your primary care provider will remind you. When you’re up to date with your regular check-ups and screenings, your doctor may catch major health concerns more quickly and your health care costs will go down.

Your primary care physician plays a very important role in your care and wellbeing. Effective communication is one of the keys to a mutually beneficial relationship with your primary care physician. So be direct, at ease, respectful and clearly express your concerns and goals to your primary care physician. Keeping these points in mind will help to build an effective partnership between you and your primary care physician and will undoubtedly result in improved health care outcomes.

Disclaimer: this information is not a substitute for medical care. As always, you should consult with your doctor or health care provider.

*Patient Name and DOB: