The First Visit
  • Get as prepared as you can prior to your visit so that you ask meaningful questions.
  • Write down the questions that you wish to ask and put them in priority order as you may not get to ask all of them in your first visit nor will your doctor have all of the answers during the first visit.
  • Since the visit can be overwhelming and there is a lot of information that is given, it is best to bring a second or third person with you. Two or three sets of ears are better than one. One person should be the dedicated note taker.
  • Bring a tape recorder. Many patients find that taping the conversation is the most efficient way to take notes and they can share the visit with other family members. Physicians generally appreciate this as it reduces the amount of confusion and follow-up questions from patients. There are some programs that even tape the visit for you.
  • If there is a specific article or paper that you think applies to you, read it and bring it with you.
  • Bring your current insurance cards.
  • Bring the names and contact information for all of the other doctors you are seeing.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and allergies.
  • Bring any scans or test results that would be of help to your doctor.
  • Bring a copy of the pathology report and if you don’t have one, request a copy of the pathology report.
  • Request a copy of any pertinent lab reports or scan reports.
  • Request patient literature on your diagnosis or recommended treatment(s).
  • Request a copy of the visit note be sent to your primary doctor and the other doctors involved in your care.
  • Ask the doctor the best way to get follow-up questions answered after you have left the office. (Many will give you their personal information and others will answer calls through their nurse.)
  • To avoid confusion at check-out, before you leave the doctor, have a clear sense of the follow-up plan and when you are to return to see the doctor.
  • Some offices take your photo and keep it in your chart. If they don’t you may want to offer one. A photo will help your doctor and office staff remember who you are.



     

Bob and Jan Haase
Appendiceal Cancer Survivor, Michigan


"I have learned more and have received more guidance from my nurse consultant than I have from any of the physicians, oncologists, radiologists an books combined during my entire journey. And for free! The confidential portal allows me to communicate online from work. I am thankful for this lifelong resource."
- Jeannette R.
Breast Cancer Survivor, North Carolina