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Maribel Diaz

Strategy and Planning, City of Hope

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How to Be Your Own Health Advocate

08/28/2015 12:23PM | 7917 views

Time yourself as you get ready for bed tonight—including how long it takes to change into your pajamas, wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. Statistics indicate that the time you spend as part of your nightly routine might be longer than your next visit to the physician. Specifically, a study in 2013 revealed that newer physicians spend an average of eight minutes with a patient. Perhaps you can attest to this reality, and have experienced the feeling of just walking into a physician’s office when the visit is already over.

While healthcare access is expanding as part of healthcare reform, we can likely expect our time with physicians to decrease to accommodate the patient load. Thus, now more than ever, it is of utmost importance to make the most of your time with your physician. Remember, they are here to serve you.

Here are a few tips to assist you during your next physician visit and maximize your time together: 

  • Come prepared. Think of a list of key questions you would like to ask your physician, and either verbally read the list at the onset of the appointment or hand the list to the physician. Even if the physician seems to be in a hurry, have your questions answered.
  • Don’t be shy. Be honest about your ailments and share all of the necessary details—even if it feels a little uncomfortable. It is likely the physician has already had a similar case in the past and they will not be surprised.
  • Ask for interpreter (if necessary). You and your family have the right to ask for interpreter—it is the law for you to be provided those services if requested. 

After your initial visit, you might be asked to return as it is common practice for a physician to schedule a follow-up appointment with a patient to assess how treatment is going and/or if the illness has fully improved. While it may be inconvenient to return to the physician’s office, follow-up care is important because it helps to identify changes in health. Please be encouraged to go to this appointment, even if you feel as if you have fully recovered, and once again follow the tips listed previously.

There is truth behind the Spanish saying “visita de doctor”—which is a lighthearted jester to signify you are going to a certain place for a very brief period of time. However, while this saying is rooted in some truth, you can still make the best of your visit and leave the physician’s office satisfied and informed. 

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    • B. Cubbard
    • 09/07/2014 12:07 p.m.
    • Great article! These are amazing points; however, given your target audience, I would recommend a Spanish version of these articles/videos. Ironically, one of the points is to ask for an interpreter—I highly doubt someone who needs an interpreter would be reading an English blog post.

      Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration to the Hispanic health world!