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Getting the most out of your appointment

Published on April 23, 2015

Getting the most out of your appointment

George Morris, MD
Family Medicine/Sports Medicine
St. Cloud Medical Group Northwest

Have you ever left a doctor appointment disappointed that you forgot to ask an important question or feeling confused about the diagnosis or medicine prescribed? With a little preparation you can get the most out of your appointment.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Prepare for your office visit by defining your goals, organizing your symptoms and making a list of questions.

Couple at a doctor appointment.


  • What is wrong?
  • What causes it?
  • How serious is it?
  • Am I contagious?
  • How will it affect me in the future?

Doctor's Orders

  • What activities do I need to avoid?
  • Do I need a follow-up visit?
  • When should I call if I’m not better?
  • Should I watch for anything special?


  • Can you give me information about the medicine?
  • What is the medicine for?
  • How should I take it and for how long?
  • What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
  • Is this medication safe to take with other medicine or dietary supplements?
  • What food, drink or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?


  • Why do I need this test?
  • What can I expect during the test?
  • How reliable is the test?
  • What if I don’t have the test?
  • How much will the test cost? Will insurance cover it?
  • How and when will I get the results?

Appointment Tips

Before Your Appointment

  • Write down any questions.
  • Arrive early for your appointment.
  • Bring a list of your signs and symptoms.
  • Bring your health history.
  • Always bring a list of current medications, including dosages and allergies.
  • Tell your doctor about any herbal or other alternative medicines or treatments used.

During Your Appointment

  • Ask questions, especially if you don't understand what your doctor has told you.
  • If you feel the need, bring someone who can help you ask questions and help you understand and remember answers later.
  • Ask your doctor to draw pictures to help explain something.
  • Take notes.
  • Tell your doctor if you feel you need more time to make a decision on your care.

After Your Appointment

  • Call if you have questions or log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.
  • Call if your symptoms get worse or if you have problems with medication.
  • If you had tests and haven't heard within a week, call for your results.
  • Make any appointments suggested by your doctor, for example lab, X-ray or referral to a specialist.

Health information accessed through is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Dr. George MorrisGeorge Morris, MD
Family Medicine/Sports Medicine
St. Cloud Medical Group Northwest
Learn more about Dr. Morris

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