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A Partner in Good Health: How to Build a Relationship with your Primary Care Doctor

The doctor-patient relationship is much different today than it was many years ago. Patients used to seek advice from their doctors on how to manage their health, and actually followed that advice with little doubt. Today, patients turn to Google to research their symptoms, self-diagnose and read stories from other people with similar conditions. The more people turn to the internet for treatment options, the more doctor-patient relationships have suffered.

While it’s tempting to Google your symptoms, we all need to recognize that a doctor is the only person qualified to give you  proper advice on your health. Whether it’s an annual check-up, you’re sick, or you’re in need of urgent care, you will need a primary care doctor that you can trust and be honest with. Building a relationship with your doctor is beneficial in that he or she will get to know you and your health, leading to personalized care, accurate diagnoses and treatment plans that will work best for you. Use these five tips to help you cultivate trust and respect with your primary care doctor.

1. Prepare for your appointment with a list of questions or concerns.

Before your well visits, write down a list of concerns and questions you have about your health. Your time and your doctor’s time is valuable – he or she will appreciate your effort. Making a list will also show your doctor that you’re serious about your health.

2. Keep your doctor updated on your health.

Have you ramped up your exercise regimen? Tried a new diet? Switched your multivitamin? Let your doctor know about it. Updates will help establish a dialogue, creating open conversation around your health and routines.

3. Be proactive.

The key to any successful relationship is to put effort into making it positive and showing that you’re invested in working toward a common goal. This is no different for a relationship with your primary care physician. If you show an interest in your own wellness and do your best to become a healthier individual, your doctor will become more invested, too.

4. Set the tone from the onset.

If you make the first appointment with your primary care physician a positive one, it will help set expectations for the future. The doctor will know from the very beginning what you’re looking for from your appointments.

5. Listen to your doctor’s advice.

If you go back to the doctor’s office for a follow-up appointment without following through on his or her advice, you run the risk of losing trust and respect. Remember, your doctor is an expert and knows your health best. Take notes and ask questions so you understand. Make sure you’re listening to what he or she tells you to do.

If you don’t think your doctor is giving you the right advice or isn’t taking your concerns seriously, be honest about it — it will help open up discussion about other treatment options.

A partner in good health

Your doctor should be your teammate — someone who works alongside you in improving or maintaining good health. He or she should listen to you, help ease your concerns and answer your questions. If you feel like you’ve tried everything you can to have a positive relationship with your doctor but nothing works, he or she may not be the right physician for you. It’s okay to switch doctors if you feel as though you’re not getting the care you deserve.

If you’re looking for a primary care doctor to build a lasting relationship with, check out some of the physicians at Columbia Memorial. View doctor bios of Columbia Memorial primary care physicians, or use the Find A Doc tool to help you find the right physician, today.

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