How to Self-Advocate at the Doctor

When we are struggling with our health or feel like something is off, we rely on medical professionals to give us answers and a guideline on how to get back to what’s “normal.” But sometimes, this isn’t the care we receive. Women, in particular, are often not heard or brushed off by doctors because, unfortunately, there are still gender biases in the medical world. As recently as 2021, some studies show women are more often prescribed therapy for their health concerns than their male counterparts. Men can also be overlooked at the doctor’s office but often to a far less extent than women. We’ve put together tips to advocate for yourself on your next doctor’s visit.

Show Up Prepared

Before arriving at your appointment, prepare for your visit. Write down questions you have for your doctor regarding your health. Have a notepad or app where you jot down your questions as they come up leading up to your visit. Make a list of any symptoms and feelings so that you can communicate everything and not forget anything when you speak with your doctor.

Clearly Communicate What You’re Experiencing

At your visit, arrive on schedule to ensure you get all the time allotted to you by your provider. Articulate what you are experiencing as best you can, or show your notes and questions. If you have pain, inform your provider when it started and if it’s radiating, pulsating, dull, or pounding. State if the pain is constant or intermittent and if anything helps alleviate the pain.

Take Notes and Bring Someone With You

It is a good idea to take notes during your appointment, as doctor’s visits can often feel rushed, and a lot happens in a short timeframe. Notes also help you not to miss or forget anything important. Bringing someone with you can also be helpful to act as part of your support system and help you jot down notes. If English is your second language, you may be able to request an interpreter ahead of time.

Give Pushback

Giving your doctor pushback can be difficult, especially if you are non-confrontational, but it can really serve you when you’re self-advocating. Let your provider know you are concerned they aren’t hearing you or that you disagree with their recommendations. It can lead to clarification or a change in your care plan.

Seek a Second Opinion/Switch Providers

Whether you have lost trust in your provider or your doctor-patient relationship isn’t a good match, you may want to get a second opinion on a diagnosis or find a new provider entirely. It is important that you feel safe and never rushed when detailing your health concerns.

Do you have any tips for advocating for yourself at the doctor? Share them with us in the comments below!

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.