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How to prepare for your visit to the doctor

Patrick Connors, M.D.

Patrick Connors, M.D.

Guest Author: Patrick Connors, MD, 2014 Graduate TCMC (GCSOM)

This column is a monthly feature of “Health & Exercise Forum” in association with the students and faculty of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

In 2009 65 young men and women became part of TCMC’s (now GCSOM) charter class and less than ten years later, after completing residencies in various medical specialties, 14 have return to NEPA to serve our community. Dr. Patrick Connors, class of 2014, is among those eager to contribute to the health and wellness of the people in his hometown. Dr. Connors, son of Pat and Ann Biglin Connors, graduated from Dunmore High School and Temple University before attending TCMC (GCSOM) school. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia and is practicing at the Prime Med office on Pittston Avenue.

“It is nice to practice in an area with people who have meant so much to you,” says Dr. Patrick Connors, Dunmore native who has recently returned to NEPA to practice medicine with Prime Med in South Scranton. He is eager to give back to the community he feels gave him so much. In this column, Dr. Connors and his staff have compiled a list of suggestions that will make your visit to the doctor more effective and efficient.

The majority of visits with your doctor are scheduled to last about 15 minutes. Making the most out of such a short encounter is a challenge, but a little bit of preparation can go a long way.  With many people only seeing their doctor once or twice per year, the importance of being prepared is enormous.  The following is a list of tips to help you make the most out your 15 minutes.

  1. Write down questions.
    1. An easy way to make sure all of your questions are answered is to make a list. At the beginning of your visit, let your physician know that you brought a list of questions.  This helps to ensure you have enough time to discuss all of your concerns.  It may also be helpful to ask family or friends if they can think of anything you need to ask or always forget to ask.
  2. Ask family members what conditions run in the family.
    1. Many conditions have a genetic predisposition. Testing for some of these conditions is not always routinely done in the general population but may be performed if a patient has a strong family history. Certain screening tests like colonoscopies are often performed at an earlier age in patients with a family history of colon cancer.
  3. Bring your medication list.
    1. Medication errors are a major problem in healthcare. With many patients obtaining prescriptions from multiple specialists, medication lists can be a helpful way of keeping track. It is important that the patient, physician and pharmacist are all on the same page about what medicines someone is taking.  If you aren’t sure of your medications, bring in your pill bottles.  Dosages and frequencies are important also.
  4. Try to anticipate questions your doctor will ask.
    1. How long have you had a particular symptom or what were you doing when it started? Has it ever happened to you in the past?
  5. Dress in comfortable clothing that also allows for an exam.
  6. Bring in a log of home readings.
    1. If you check your blood pressure or blood sugar at home, make a log and bring it in for review. Relying on your memory for these isn’t as accurate as a written log.  Often times a log helps to demonstrate a pattern that can be useful.
  7. Bring copies of results of tests with you.
    1. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get access to prior MRI or lab test results. It could be helpful to bring a copy of these to your visit – especially if it involves something you want to discuss that day.
  8. Bring the names of all physicians that you see.
    1. This helps if we need to contact another provider to discuss a result or plan of care.
  9. Try to arrive early – especially if it is your first time at a new office.
    1. The first visit often involves a lot of paperwork and forms to be signed. It is best to get this out of the way prior to your visit.
  10. Bring your insurance information and contact information.
    1. It is best to have the most up to date information on your record. An up to date emergency contact and an active phone number will make sure you are contacted as quickly as possible if it ever becomes necessary.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commowealth School of Medicine.