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Effective Communication During Medical Appointments

A medical appointment may cause strong emotions: anxiety, frustration, anger, and even terror. How do you manage those strong feelings and remain calm? 

Here are ways to reduce the risk  of not being properly informed about your condition,  ways to ensure you get the care you need, and ways to reduce the risk of being “fired as a patient.” 

How to Managing Emotions in a Medical Appointment:

  1. Before you go,  write down your questions. If you become too upset to talk, hand the written list over to your doctor to read.

  2. If you notice a strong reaction, take a deep breath and count to 10 before expressing yourself. This will calm you down, and allow you to focus on the appointment itself, rather than all the feelings welling up inside.

  3. Be kind. Doctors are people, too. They see many patients each day, and, while they must remain professional, they are not without their own feelings. 

  4. Avoid at all costs raising your voice, yelling or using profanities. This can result in you being escorted out. Instead, explain your emotional state (i.e. “I feel angry and frustrated …”).

  5. Use encouraging self-talk (“I can do this”) to help you get through the appointment. Promise yourself time to react and vent later. 

  6. Be aware of your body language. Sit up straight, with your arms softly at your sides and look your doctor in the eyes. Breathe. 

  7. Be “at the moment.” Listen. Don’t move on to your next thought or retort before the doctor is finished speaking. 

  8. Talk to your health advocate about role-playing possible situations in advance. Role-playing will help you keep your emotions under control when you are in appointments.

  9. Ask your Advocate to attend with you. They will help keep the discussion focused on problem-solving and review outcomes and options with you afterwards.

These recommendations will help you maintain positive, productive relationships with your medical providers.

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