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4 Self-Advocacy Tips for Making Medical Appointments Mutually Beneficial

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Self-advocacy for some comes naturally; for others, it is a refined ability. Meeting with medical professionals can be daunting. More so when they are well-known for their specialty, condescending or simply seem to disengage when their beliefs don’t align with your reality. Be it the first greeting or a routine meeting, each time can feel overwhelming, being put on the stand to have your reality examined by someone who only has the slightest glimpse into what goes on beyond what they can see and who may never truly comprehend what it feels like to be you or me.

At the same time, with the slightest bit of self-advocacy, sometimes these appointments have the potential to be guided to a place of tremendous productivity by putting your minds together even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. As a patient who has met with doctors across various specialties and who has supported my family through their medical journeys, I’ve found the following mutually beneficial at times.

1. Do your own research.

Set aside time to read empirical articles, consult with others on your team and cautiously review patient testimonies to get a feel for how they practice. (Reviews are likely to be shared from those who have experienced being treated poorly but it’s also a chance to prepare for what presence you may face and how best to present your case.)

2. Write down your concerns and questions you hope to have answered.

If you find yourself consumed by many emotions, this will help ground you.

3. Stay seated until you’ve adequately been addressed.

The moment you begin to provide body language cues like standing or sitting on the edge of your seat, things will wrap up.

4. Be appreciative and note accountability for everyone involved.

Acknowledge both of your time is valuable, track noticeable changes from your baseline “normal,” be honest if you did not follow protocols, and if something feels unacceptable then request for it be charted or ask for copies of your records.

It can be tough after holding immense faith in what the outcomes could be. Yet remember we are all human; errors happen, alternatives are forgotten and in my experience, the frustration or tension may be shared as they, too, may want the best for you. Find ways to set yourself up so advocating can be done with greater ease and voice. This is an opportunity for collaboration between an informed patient and those who have a medical degree to make a difference in the life you live daily.

Portions of this article were previously shared on the author’s Instagram.

Image via contributor

Originally published: November 12, 2020
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