How to Be a Better Patient Advocate for Yourself


Seeing a medical professional can be an intimidating experience. You are completely at a stranger’s mercy, and he or she is, essentially, taking charge of one of your most valuable attributes: your health. That being said, the vast majority of health professionals do not want to scare you and prefer that you advocate for yourself and your needs. How can you do that? Here are three suggestions.

Research Doctors

Part of advocating for your health takes place before you even select a doctor. To be a proactive patient, you should research prospective physicians. There are many websites that you can use to do just that. For example, HealthGrades is powered by reviews from over a million users. Thankfully, the internet can give any patient a podium on which they can discuss their experience with a doctor — for better or worse. Your job is to sift through the reviews and find a doctor whose style will match yours.

Ask Questions

Do not allow a doctor's lab coat to intimidate you. Your job is to make sure you fully understand what's wrong with you and what you can do about it. As such, make sure to ask the doctor questions. If you are worried about forgetting something, make sure to write down your questions ahead of time. Furthermore, if necessary, don't hesitate to call back after an appointment. This will help give you additional peace of mind and answer questions that you may have forgotten to ask.

Research Your Symptoms

It's always better to have an idea of what ails you before entering a doctor's office. To that end, research your symptoms, and try to use that research to get a better idea of what you are suffering from. While this is important for your peace of mind, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Make sure you are looking at reputable websites, and remember, a Google search is not a substitution for a medical degree. Make sure to explain your thoughts to your doctor, but take his or her advice. After all, that's what you are paying him or her to do! Remember that doctors and other medical professionals are there to serve you. They have a strict code of ethics, and except in the most extreme of circumstances, they will listen to you and respect your wishes. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, your needs and your health. Your body and your mind will thank you later. Related: Don’t Try to Tough it Out: The Importance of Professional Medical Treatment

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