MHSC: Make the most of your doctor’s visit


Deb Sutton, Marketing Director – Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County

When it comes to a doctor’s appointment, I’m a good advocate. However, I was humbled to find out I’m the one who sometimes needs a little help. There are times when I’m not picking up what my doctor is putting down.

I dislocated my right foot several years ago. Held captive by a boot for a while, a friend drove me to follow-up appointments with an orthopedist. After the first appointment, I relayed to my boss what the doctor had said. My friend quickly stepped in and corrected me. I couldn’t believe I had gotten it wrong; so much in disbelief that I called the doctor’s office to double-check. A humbling experience, indeed.

Here are some tips for your next doctor’s appointment:

Take a pal: Don’t be afraid to take a family member or good friend with you, particularly if it’s your first meeting with a new provider.

Being an advocate can be as simple as sitting in on an appointment and never saying a word. Other times, you may need the confidence to ask for more information. If the information isn’t clear to you, it also may not be clear to your friend.

List of questions: Jot down your questions prior to the visit. Once there, be sure to write down the answers. Those answers will help you understand your treatment and help you manage your health routine.

List questions in the order of importance. If it’s on your mind, your provider wants to hear about it.

  • “Doc, I’m thinking about seeing a massage therapist. Will that help?”
  • “Should I take an 80mg low-dose aspirin before bedtime?”
  • “I saw on social media that apple cider vinegar may help with this condition. Is that true?”

No question is too delicate when it comes to your health. You can find a “Questions to Ask Your Doctor” worksheet on the hospital website.

Your meds: It will help, particularly if it’s your first visit, to bring a list of your current prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal remedies and supplements. In fact, it’s a good idea to pack them up and bring them along. A medications worksheet is available on the hospital website.

As a patient at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County or any of its Specialty Clinics, your health information is fed into the HealtheLife patient portal. As more and more of your information is fed into the system, the easier it will be for you and all of your providers to manage your healthcare.

Test results: The same goes for test results. Do you have results of a recent colonoscopy or your latest A1C numbers? Bring them with you or let the staff know ahead of time where and how to get copies of the test results.

Family records: The medical history of your family can have a big impact on your health. This information helps the provider identify people with a higher-than-usual chance of having common disorders.

Write down your family history, including information on your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. You’ll find a Family Health History worksheet on the hospital website.

Ask for an interpreter: Don’t let a language barrier hinder your care. If your provider doesn’t speak your language, ask for an interpreter. It’s important that you understand your diagnosis and the instructions the doctor gives you.

Our patient access specialists can arrange to have a Spanish-speaking interpreter help you with an appointment. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or sight impaired, please notify one of our healthcare providers or staff to arrange interpreting services during your visit.

Additional resources through language line services are available to assist in more than 240 languages including American Sign Language. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you have questions prior to your visit, don’t hesitate to call the clinic’s patient access specialist. To find various worksheets to prep for your doctor’s visit, go to, click on Patient & Visitors, and scroll down to Doctor Visits.

Deb Sutton is the Marketing Director at Sweetwater Memorial. Prior to that, she spent about 35 years as a writer and editor at five different Wyoming newspapers.

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