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What Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew

Updated on May 8, 2015

My Top 10 List

I worked as a nurse in a family practice clinic for 2 ½ years. During this time I got to see all types of people. Some I absolutely loved. Others, quite frankly, made me want to pull my hair out. Through it all, I learned some tips to help patients get more out their next doctor’s appointment. Below is my top ten list.


Tip #1 Schedule early

Try scheduling your appointment as early in the day as possible. There is less chance that the provider will be running behind schedule and a greater likelihood you will get in on time.

Tip #2 Be punctual

Be on time yourself. A late patient causes the provider to have to backtrack which wreaks havoc on patient flow.

Tip #3 Identify the issues

Make sure you let the scheduler know the issues you need to discuss with the provider. This will help the scheduler determine the length and time for the appointment.

Tip #4 Prioritize

Limit the visit to the 2 or 3 most pressing concerns. Most appointments are slotted for 10 or 15 minutes. If you are the proverbial walking train wreck with a multitude of issues, it is better to schedule multiple appointments.


Tip #5 Bring your medications

The nurse will want to review all of your medications when they put you in the room. Remembering a laundry list of medications can be very difficult. It helps to have an updated list containing the name, strength, and dosing information for all medications. Better yet—put them all in a bag and take them with you.

Tip #6 Bring relevant testing logs to your appointments

Providers will frequently ask patients to keep a record of their blood pressure and/or blood sugar. If that is the case, be sure to bring those records with you to each appointment. This helps the provider to monitor your condition and make any necessary changes in treatment.

Tip #7 Avoid the “two for one” appointment

If both of your children are sick make sure you schedule appointments for both of them. This will ensure that appropriate time is allocated for the provider to examine each child. It will keep an anticipated 15 minute appointment from turning into a 30 minute appointment (putting the provider even further behind schedule). Also, this is a way of trying to get services for free. Most people would not dream of ordering a meal at a restaurant and asking for a second one for free yet do not give a second thought to trying it with their doctor.

Tip #8 Don’t be afraid to ask questions

As doctors and nurses, we can sometimes forget that not everyone has the same understanding of medical terms, procedures, etc. If you don’t understand something please ask. Knowledge is power.


Tip #9 Be Honest with your provider

None of us is perfect and your doctor is certainly not there to judge, however, it is important that you be able to talk openly with one another. If the doctor questions why your blood sugar is high, you should let him know if you missed doses of medication. If the doctor recommends a certain test, you should let her know if you have no interest in proceeding. Open communication will help the doctor address any concerns you may have and provide better treatment.

Tip #10 Don’t make your children afraid of the nurse

Children don’t like going to the doctor. They already don’t feel good and can be cranky. They are then thrust into unfamiliar surroundings with a bunch of strangers poking and prodding at them. They are not going to be at their most cooperative. Parents only make the situation worse by telling them the nurse will give them a shot if they don’t behave. The child then looks on the nurse as this evil person who wants to stick them with a sharp object.

If there are any other nurses out there, I would love for you to add your suggestions as well.

© 2015 Vicki Holder


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