NWPC Blog

How to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment with Northwest Primary Care

Spending quality time with your doctor is a valuable resource for managing your health. We care about our patients and want them to get the most out of their visits at our Portland primary care clinic. If you are looking for ways to take full advantage of your one-on-one time with your primary care physician, read on for more details. We’ve put together a list of helpful tools to help you maximize your next visit to NWPC. Together, we can help you take charge of your health. 

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment 

At NWPC, we understand the importance of personalized care. Meeting with your doctor allows you to address your concerns, ask pressing questions, and develop a wellness plan. To optimize your time at one of our clinics, consider these steps outlined in our doctor visit checklist:

  • Prepare for your medical visit in advance.
  • Bring all necessary paperwork.
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Plan ahead for a physical exam of any problem areas. 
  • Take notes during your appointment.
  • Ask questions.
  • Identify next steps.

Prepare for Your Medical Visit in Advance

Before your appointment, make sure that you have all the necessary information needed for a thorough conversation with your doctor. We recommend bringing an appointment journal to each visit. In this journal, catalog your list of concerns and reasons for your consultation. Don’t forget to prioritize them in order of importance so that your most pressing medical questions get addressed first. Are you experiencing a new symptom that you would like to get checked out? Is this a follow-up visit or your routine, annual exam? No matter what the reason, log it in your wellness journal and bring that with you to your appointment. Include a list of any medications and supplements you are taking, as well as your allergies and your family medical history. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can use an appointment aid template and adjust it according to your needs. These journals are an excellent tool for busy parents to have on hand for their kids. 

Bring All Necessary Paperwork

To ensure there aren’t any delays in your appointment, make sure you come to your visit with your health insurance card, referral paperwork, and copay, if applicable. We also recommend that all of our patients organize and maintain their vital medical records. You can keep the necessary documents in your health journal. 

You can also create a separate binder with all of your previous test results, insurance forms, and pharmacy records. If you get in the habit of cataloging all the essential information in one easy-to-locate place, you won’t have to scramble the day of your appointment. For the technology lover, look into different apps and devices like smartwatches to track and store your medical data

Arrive 15 Minutes Before Your Scheduled Appointment

Arriving slightly early allows you to take care of the check-in protocols before your visit. Getting vitals checked, filling out any paperwork, and making any pre-appointment payments can take a few minutes. If you get them out of the way before your scheduled start time, you’ll be able to devote your entire visit to your health needs.

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Plan Ahead for a Physical Exam of Any Problem Areas 

If you are seeing your doctor regarding a specific ailment or as part of a follow-up appointment that will require a physical examination, take steps to prepare for an assessment. Ask for a gown ahead of time if you need to have an area of your body looked at that is usually covered. If you are seeing one of the specialists for foot issues, remove your socks and shoes as soon as you are in the exam room. If you are dealing with an arm rash, consider wearing a short-sleeved shirt. Anything that you can do to make the exam easier and more convenient will help ensure the appointment is focused on diagnosis and treatment.

Take Notes During Your Appointment

To help you remember the guidance given by your physician, it’s a good idea to take notes. If writing is an issue for any reason, ask your practitioner for pamphlets or other resources that you can take home. You can also ask if you can have a friend or relative join your appointment and take notes for you. 

take-notes-during-appointment-primary-care-tips-visualAsk Questions

If you are prescribed any new medication or need help understanding specifics about a diagnosis or course of action, always ask your doctor clarifying questions. Whether it’s a medical term you need explained or you’d like to learn more about prescription dosages, we are always here to answer any and all questions. 

Identify Next Steps

Before leaving your appointment, make sure you fully grasp any follow-up guidelines. Things to consider are:

  • Do you need to schedule another appointment?
  • Do you need to update your physician by a particular date of any symptom changes?
  • Will you need additional tests or a secondary visit with a specialist?

Having a “next steps” section in your journal is a fantastic way to ensure you know the next course of action.

We have served the Southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and Clackamas communities for more than 30 years. Our top priority is to ensure patients are heard and that their goals are met during their visits. To learn more about advocating for your unique health needs, we invite you to learn more through our patient resources

Schedule an Appointment at Any of Our Portland Primary Care Clinics

Northwest Primary Care is currently offering telehealth visits and in-person appointments at all of our clinic locations. Whether you are looking to schedule an annual exam, learn health management tips, or have an ailment addressed, our skilled team is here for you! Schedule an appointment today.