How to Effectively Communicate With Your Doctor

Let's face it, talking to a doctor or any medical person for that matter, is not easy. In fact, sometimes, it can be downright intimidating. In my opinion, doctors get used to speaking like the textbook that they learned from.  

It is also how they talk to each other, but when they talk to me, I have a hard time comprehending what they are saying. If you do not understand, you need to initiate a conversation to get clarification. Learn to speak up and advocate for yourself.

The importance of effective communication

It is quite evident to me that physicians have extremely high levels of education. They are among the most intelligent individuals I've ever met, but I've found that many of them have very, very little bedside manner.

We often have the misconception that our physicians are passing judgment on us, while in reality, they are just processing what we have to say. Therefore, the issue that has to be answered is how we may persuade them to provide that knowledge to us on a level that we are able to understand.

Taking care of your healthcare journey

In order to make the conversations work for you, you have to do the work first. You have to gather all of your information just like the nurse does in the hospital. One suggestion is to input your data into a journal. A day-to-day format would be best.

The doctor might not have time to go through your journal, but having done the work will make you more knowledgeable about your COPD, and you will have more confidence about answering the doctor’s questions.

Be sure to be accurate with exercise tolerance. I found my exercise chart was the easiest one to do.

I was happy to put the chart together and add to it every day. It showed the evidence that I was doing better today than I did yesterday and as long as it was going that way, I was happy.

All of your doctors should talk to each other, and it's up to you to open those lines of communication. Give your permission to make it happen, and make sure that all of your doctors agree. If a doctor doesn’t commit, decide how important it is to you.

Make yourself known to the staff, both nurses and admin staff. Find the person who is the gatekeeper. That's the person you have to go through to get an appointment or to have the doctor return a call. She is the one who holds all the power, so to speak.

Tracking symptoms

Monitor the conditions that make a difference in your symptoms. For instance, weather and food play havoc with my symptoms. I know this because I tracked it from the early years.

It wasn’t mind-shattering to my doctor because my bet is he probably already knew it, but he let me go through the process of coming to my own conclusion. He was a very kind and well-educated doctor.

Don’t forget to include books you read, courses you took, and movies you have seen, just because it’s fun to look back.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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