Going to a new doctor does not have to be an overwhelming experience. The key is to be prepared ahead of time. Following are some ideas to get ready to see a specialist for the first time.
The Legwork of Getting Ready to Consult a Medical SpecialistThe first thing to understand is what the purpose is of being referred to a specialist. What does the general practitioner hope to accomplish by sending the patient for more specialized care? Will it be the patient’s duty to report the findings back, or will the two doctors be in communication over the medical condition?
Ask the general practitioner who he or she recommends as a specialist, but don’t stop there. For instance, if the other doctor will be a neurologist, rheumatologist, high risk ob/gyn, etc, ask friends and family for recommendations as well. Often others' personal experience can be very valuable in making big decisions like this. The internet can also be a valuable recourse for reviews of doctors and medical centers. Do some homework before choosing a doctor.
Check with the insurance company to find out what doctors are covered and what the patient’s financial responsibility will be. Also ask if a written referral is necessary, and obtain one from the general practitioner if required.
Sometimes, if the situation is not urgent, there can be a waiting period of a few weeks or a month before the appointment. Use this time to collect all medical records to bring to the appointment. Also prepare a list of any medications being taken, both prescription and over the counter. Start thinking of questions to ask the doctor, and make a list to bring.
The Day of the Specialist AppointmentIt’s a good idea to bring a family member or close friend to the appointment, both for company and to ask any questions that may have been forgotten. Four ears can also listen better than two, and when a patient is nervous, it can be helpful to have someone else there to listen to instructions.
Check the route to the medical center or office ahead of time, especially if unfamiliar with the area. If possible, it’s even a good idea to take a dry run there a day or two before the appointment so as to feel comfortable with the directions.
Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the appointment time. This will allow time for filling out paperwork and getting settled and calmed down before the appointment. Fill out all answers honestly and thoroughly, this makes it much easier for the doctor to know what’s going on. If possible, clear the rest of the day of responsibilities, that way if the waiting time is longer than anticipated or the appointment itself is lengthy, there will be less stress.
Seeing a new doctor can be stressful in any situation. Often, if a specialist is getting involved, it may be more so. Being prepared ahead of time and having everything in order on the day of the appointment can make the situation much easier to deal with.