What To Expect When Going To The Doctor


What To Expect When You're Going To The Doctor

I know it seems a bit silly when you think about it to think about what to expect when you’re planning on going to see a doctor. Most of us are used to the annual check up and we go to see a physician. Since  a parent has been carting us back and forth to see pediatricians for a good portion of our lives, it can be challenging to make that first visit to the doctor by yourself. I know the first time I went alone, I had no idea what I to expect. So we’ve rounded up our top tips on what to expect when you head to the doctor for the first time on your own.

They’ll ask for your insurance card.

A great deal of doctors will want to know that you are able to pay them before you provide them with any of their services. Make sure you have your insurance card on you when you’re going to the doctor or call ahead of time and see if they have it on file. If you don’t have insurance, you should bring enough money to pay for the services that they will be providing for you. If you’re wondering how much they cost, just call ahead and ask about the costs of medical services for the facility. If these aren’t something you can afford, you might want to consider free clinics in your area, which will not require that you have insurance. Urgent care centers also often cost a lot less than other facilities.

You will have to wait.

Medical care, and receiving it, can often be very slow processes. Be prepared to arrive to your appointment early and to wait around twenty minutes before you are even able to start getting the process of getting things done into motion. You may also have to wait for your doctor to even come in to give you care. Since things do not usually go like clockwork for patients in medical offices, it’s an excellent idea to plan your afternoon knowing that you’ll have to spend a lot of your time waiting around and having nothing to do. Since you’ll have to wait, for medical care, I would suggest not scheduling appointments right after your doctor’s appointment and picking a day that is not very busy in the office!

They’ll ask you questions that seem to not have anything to do with medicine.

Whenever I go to the doctor, my physician asks me what I am doing in school and how I am liking it. She asks me about my friends, my family, and a lot of other things that seem to have nothing to do with my physical health. You can be left wondering when they are actually going to give you any medical treatment. These questions are actually really important since doctors need to see patients as people, not just bodies that are a collection of physical symptoms. Even if you feel like questions like these are not that important and you’re unsure why you’re being asked, make sure you answer them. 

You’ll only spend about 15 minutes with your doctor.

I have shadowed and worked under a great many doctors and they tell me all the same thing: unless they are doing a special procedure, if it’s just a check up, they see so many patients in a day that they are not able to spend more than about 15 minutes per patient. It seems like this is a challenge since a lot of people go to the doctor and they’re afraid of what might happen next. Some of us might just also need someone to talk to and we could really benefit from being able to spend time talking with our physicians about things that are worrying us. However, between all of the waiting and some of the preliminary data which is collected by nurses and medical assistants, you don’t get to spend very much time actually speaking to your doctor about any health related concerns that you are having. Since this is true, always be prepared to ask any questions you have very quickly since you will need to get those answers and you won’t have very much time. Also, be prepared to call back, especially if all of your questions are not answered in that very short period of time.

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Micaela Stevenson

Micaela is a Wellness and Feminism columnist at Spire and Co. She is also a sophomore premed student double majoring in Biochemistry and Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Health and Illnesses at Eastern Michigan University. Her dream is to graduate with honors and attend the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and to become a perinatal and fetal surgeon. She loves to watch Netflix, bake, do research, and eat lots of macaroni!

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