What to Do if You Feel Rushed at the Doctor’s Office

Lindsay Knake

| 3 min read

Lindsay Knake is a brand journalist for Blue Cross B...

When you go to the doctor, you may feel rushed.
Physicians and primary health care providers are busy and have to spend more time on electronic medical records, according to Harvard Health. As a patient, it may feel they are focusing on notes and providing quick answers.
The average primary care provider appointment is 18 minutes, according to a study in 2021. Knowing how to advocate for yourself is important – the appointment is for you.
Here is what you can do to make sure you’re prepared ahead of time and ensure your questions and concerns all get addressed.

Prepare a list of questions ahead of time.

Think about what you want to talk about and what you’d like the appointment to accomplish, then make a list. Tell your physician at the start of the appointment that you have this list.
Write the list in order of importance, and bring details about symptoms, possible triggers, side effects of medications, etc.

Have a list of medications and doses.

Your physician will likely ask you what medications and supplements you are taking. Have a list of all of them and the doses for each handy. This will help you move swiftly through that part of the appointment.

Know your family history.

A new physician will ask about the medical histories of your relatives, including parents, siblings, and grandparents. Know major diagnoses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Prepare that information ahead of time.

Talk to the nurse.

Nurses are a helpful bridge between you and your doctor. Discuss the reason for your visit with the nurse who will brief the physician on the nature of the appointment. Nurses can also answer some questions.

Speak succinctly.

Doctors, including primary care physicians, are busy. By knowing how you’d like to share your concerns or symptoms, you can create time for what you need: solutions.

Take notes of your own.

Your doctor will take notes during the appointment, and you can do the same. Taking notes may help you understand the advice and treatments from your doctor, and help you form important questions for a follow-up appointment.

Have support with you.

If you’d like the support from another person, bring a family member or trusted friend with you. This person may be able to help ask questions or give you the support you need to advocate for yourself. Your physician can discuss your health and treatment in front of another person with your consent.

Ask for more time.

Even if it feels difficult, you can ask your physician for more time. Doctors may not have much extra time, but they may spend a few extra minutes with you if you advocate for yourself.

Find a new physician.

Having a health care provider who you trust is an important part of getting good care. If you don’t have the relationship you’d like with your primary care doctor, you could look for a new one.
Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members can find a doctor near them by using the Find a Doctor tool, available on both bcbsm.com and the BCBSM mobile app.
At no cost, Blue Cross’ 24-Hour Nurse Line allows you to talk to a registered nurse day or night. Registered nurses can answer your questions and help you decide where to get care when it’s late, you’re on the go or if your primary care doctor isn’t available.
Blue Cross members: 1-800-775-2583
Blue Care Network members: 1-855-624-5214
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association