Self-advocacy doesn’t require a medical degree. Advocating for yourself at the doctor can make a difference. From the overall success of your care to the quick diagnosis of a health concern, self-advocacy is imperative. Your doctor’s job is to help you feel better, live longer, and live healthier, and your doctor relies on your help to do just that. When you advocate for yourself, you assist your doctor in providing the best possible medical care. If you’re unsure how to self-advocate, here are a few tips to help you get started at the doctor when it’s time to advocate for yourself and your health.
1- Be Specific About Your Appointment
When you call to make your appointment, but specific about what you want. Tell the doctor exactly what you want. If it’s a check-up for general purposes, state that. If you have a specific concern, be sure to tell the doctor’s office when making your appointment what your concern is. Knowing in advance what has you worried allows your doctor to order the proper tests as well as set aside enough time to discuss your concerns.
2- Learn to Understand Your Insurance
Understanding what your insurance provider covers is imperative. Self-advocacy often involves understanding exactly what your insurance company will cover, how it’s treated, and what you can have done that you’re not paying for out of pocket. Utilize your insurance company by calling to speak with a representative about your concerns, coverage, and policy information.
3- Shop for a Doctor
Though you want to find a doctor that’s in your insurance network, one that’s close to home, and one that has a good reputation, it’s wise to shop around. Just because one doctor has a stellar reputation doesn’t mean you will work well together. Don’t settle for a doctor you’re not comfortable with, you don’t like, or who makes you feel as if they are not taking you seriously. You’re hiring the doctor, and you wield the power to decide who to see.
4- Ask Questions
If you don’t understand what the doctor tells you, ask for a better explanation. You won’t always understand, but advocating for yourself at the doctor’s means not leaving until you are confident in your own understanding. It’s helpful to make a list of questions prior to your appointment to bring with you. Add to the list as your doctor discusses your appointment with you. You have the right to know what is going on, what your doctor means, and how this affects you and your health and medical conditions.
5- Do Not Be Afraid to Speak Up
It’s a common misconception for those who are not doctors to assume their doctors always know best because that’s what they’re trained to do. Doctors don’t always know everything, but you do know your body. If you think something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your doctor’s job is to take your concerns seriously because you know your body best. If necessary, seek a second opinion from another doctor to discuss your concerns.