How to Advocate for Yourself in a Doctor’s Appointment – Bipolar Burble Blog

It can be difficult to know how to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment. I’ve dealt with this for years and sometimes I still find it difficult. However, forming a doctor-patient alliance where you work together is part of a comprehensive wellness plan. To participate in this, you must be able to advocate for your own needs and desires. Here’s how to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment.

Why is it so difficult to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment?

There are many reasons why it is difficult to defend yourself before a doctor. Sometimes it is related to the doctor, sometimes to the patient, and sometimes to the situation.

Of course, some doctors are harder to defend than others. Some doctors have an old school mentality where the doctor is a father figure. In other words, they are the parents and the patient is the child. Then the child simply does what the parent says without questioning it.

This is what doctor-patient interactions used to be like. Obviously, doctors like that are less receptive to you advocating for your own mental health. However, most doctors realize that this is no longer the best way.

In other cases, some patients simply find it too difficult to defend themselves, period. No matter the doctor or the situation, the patient simply won’t talk. This could be because the person is seriously ill with something like depression or extreme anxiety, or it could simply be an individual’s personality.

Finally, sometimes the situation itself creates an inability to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment. For example, if he doesn’t know what he wants or doesn’t know enough about why he is receiving treatment, it may be impossible to know how to defend himself at a doctor’s appointment.

Why You Need to Know How to Advocate for Yourself at a Doctor’s Appointment

It’s not just about defending yourself; This is actually a better prognosis. When you have a better doctor-patient relationship, the likely outcome actually improves. Look here:

In the literature, much of the burden for this to happen falls on the doctor, and that’s fair since they are the professionals, but as two people form a relationship, I would suggest that the patients take some responsibility as well.

What you need to know to defend yourself at a doctor’s appointment

There are fundamental things you need to understand before discussing how to defend yourself at a doctor’s appointment. These include:

Tips on How to Advocate for Yourself at a Doctor’s Appointment

Here are some tips on how to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment:

  • Review the factors that may get in your way (e.g. knowledge, anxiety, etc.). Make a plan on how to overcome those barriers.
  • Consider what you want to get out of your doctor’s appointment. Why do you attend? What are your goals? What do you need to communicate? What information do you need from them?
  • Write down everything you need to consider during an appointment in advance. (This could include appointment goals, questions, information about side effects, etc.) Take that information with you. (It’s common to forget these things in front of a doctor without being reminded.)
  • Consider bringing someone to your appointment to help advocate for you. Sometimes it’s easier to defend ourselves with backup in the room. Or, sometimes, another person can defend us more effectively than we can,
  • Be honest with your doctor during your appointment. Make sure your doctor knows what you need. There can be no successful partnership with you without your active participation.
  • Have your doctor write their recommendations in your chart. – especially if you don’t agree with them. For example, if you think you need a test and your doctor won’t order it, tell him or her that you want him or her to write it in your record. If your doctor unjustifiably denies you a test, he or she will often relent if he or she believes there will be a written record of it.

What if your doctor doesn’t listen to you?

Unfortunately, sometimes, no matter how good a job you do advocating for yourself, some doctors simply don’t listen, are unreasonable, or seemingly have no interest in a positive doctor-patient relationship. If you’ve done everything you can and the relationship isn’t working, get a referral to someone else. Your doctor is not doing you any favors by treating you; In fact, your doctor is working for you. You have the right to fire them if they don’t earn their money. (Yes, I know that’s not always possible. But it’s worth doing any way possible.)

However, no matter what, continue to advocate for yourself and your health. You are the one who has to live with your health and your treatment, not your doctor.

Image by Flickr user Vic.

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