Making the Most of Your Medical Appointment

Having a successful medical appointment means both you and your provider have a clear understanding of your concerns and you leave the appointment feeling confident and satisfied that your needs were met and your voice was heard.

Here are some suggestions for making the most of your medical appointment, developed by the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics Manchester Patient Family Advisory Council in collaboration with New Hampshire Family Voices, with funding from New Hampshire Special Medical Services (SMS) and The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Preparing for your appointment

Make a list of the top three questions you wish to ask at the appointment. Write down all additional questions you have so that if you have extra time, you can ask those as well.

Questions to consider when making your list

  • What symptoms bother you most?
  • When do they occur?
  • How have things changed since your last appointment?
  • Have you read or heard something recently about your condition that you would like to discuss?

Things to remember when you call to make an appointment

  • When you speak with the receptionist, be clear about the purpose of your appointment.
  • Ask what you should bring with you.
  • A 15-minute appointment allows for your top three questions. If you think you will need more time, ask the receptionist. Additional time may be available or it may require another visit.
  • If the appointment is for your child and someone other than you will be bringing your child in, ask about consent to treat forms.

Arrive 15 minutes early

  • Arriving 15 minutes early allows you time to get through registration and fill out any forms that may be necessary before your appointment.
  • Don't forget to bring your insurance card and form of payment if they are required.

During your appointment

Set the tone for your appointment

Set the tone for a positive and productive appointment by being patient and courteous even though you may not be feeling up to it. Our staff is here to help.

Be direct about any challenges you have so that your provider can better serve you

  • Do you have a hard time reading the materials provided to you? We may have the information on video.
  • Are you unable to afford the prescribed medications? There may be resources to that can help.

Bring a list of all prescriptions and over the counter medications you are currently taking

  • Inform your provider if you need prescription refills.
  • It's helpful to have the dispensing bottle with you.
  • Know the dosage amounts and times per day the medication is taken.
  • Know the name and location of your pharmacy.

Be open and honest with your provider

Some things are tough to talk about. Your provider has likely heard about these conditions many times. He or she is a trustworthy, confidential resource.

Make sure you understand what your provider is telling you

Write down or restate what your provider is suggesting you do. Make sure you are both on the same page. Make sure you understand:

  • What you main concern is
  • What you need to do
  • Why it is important for you to do this

If you are not ready or willing to proceed with your provider's suggestions, tell them.

Your provider may suggest changes in diet, quitting smoking, leaving an abusive relationship, or taking medication.

Ask yourself how likely you are to follow through with what your provider is suggesting on a scale of 1 to 10. There may be other options, but you won't know unless you are honest with yourself and your provider.

Follow up to get the care you deserve

Be sure to follow through with scheduling appointments for additional diagnostics like lab work, X-rays or visits with a specialist.


Our providers are here to help. If you need to find a primary care provider, or search for a specialist, visit our Find a Provider page.