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Talking to your Healthcare Provider

Let's face it, before college your parent's took care of the "doctor" things, like scheduling your appointments, getting your prescriptions and making sure you took your medicine.  As you start your college career taking an active role in your health care can be a bit overwhelming, the issues you face can be more complicated and personal.  The following are some tips to help you with your next appointment:

Talk to your doctor:

Be sure to tell your doctor about any current and past health issues or concerns.  It is important to share any information you can.  Give your healthcare provider the following information during the exam:

  • Any symptoms you are having.
  • Your health history.
  • Personal information, including whether you are stressed or if there have been any life changes. 
  • Any medicine your are currently taking.  Include information about when and how often you take the medicine.  You should also write down the strength of the medicine (i.e. do you take 150 mg or 200 mg?)
  • Any allergies to medicine you have taken.
  • Any vitamins or supplement you take.

Ask questions:
Don't be afraid to speak up.  It's important to let your healthcare provider know if you don't understand something.  If you don't ask questions, your healthcare provider will assume you understand everything he/she has told you.  The following are some tips on asking your healthcare provider questions during your exam:

  • Ask if you don't understand something.
  • If you have questions before the appointment, write them down and ask during the exam.
  • Tell your healthcare provider when you need more time to talk about something. If your healthcare provider is unable to give you the time you need, schedule another appointment to continue your talk.

Accessing information:Many healthcare providers now use electronic health records.  Ask you healthcare provider how you can access your records. Patient portals help you keep track of test results, diagnoses, treatment plans and medicines.  These records can also help you prepare for your next appointment. 

Follow up with your healthcare provider: Make sure you follow any instructions your healthcare provider gave you during the appointment, like taking medicine, scheduling a test or scheduling an appointment with a specialist.  If you are confused or if you've forgotten some information, it's ok to contact your healthcare provider.  The following are some common reasons you may need to call your healthcare provider:

  • If you have any questions after the appointment.  Ask to leave amessage with your healthcare provider.  Remember that other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacisit, can be good sources of information.
  • If you start to feel worse or have problems with your medicine.
  • If you had tests and haven't got the results.

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