Going to the doctor is scary in and of itself, but going to the doctor by yourself for the first time can be a minefield of confusion and frustration. Bwog is here to help you have the best possible experience going to the doctor as a college student!

Here are Bwog’s favorite tips and tricks for navigating doctor’s appointments alone as a college student!

  • Leave for the appointment 15 minutes before you think you should.
  • If you have insurance, make sure you have a picture or physical copy of your insurance card.
  • If you have a social security number, have your social security number memorized or written down.
  • Imagine that your idol is there with you in the room and you need to act mature. Alternatively, imagine that your nemesis is in the room and you need to act unbothered and tough.
  • Tell a parent or guardian you trust that you have an appointment at that time and would appreciate it if they kept an eye on their phone in case you have any questions.
  • Doctors may take you more seriously if you dress professionally or semi-professionally. Also, try to wear clothing that wouldn’t be awkward to roll up or change out of.
  • Prepare questions ahead of time on your notes app or on a piece of paper so you don’t forget your concerns when you actually arrive at the doctor’s office.
  • Know your family history, including specific names of conditions.
  • Know the names and dosages of any medication you take, including the medications your doctor has previously discussed, so you can follow up on those.
  • Start writing down a list of the things you want to discuss with your doctor in the days before your appointment, so you’ll be less likely to forget something in the rush of the appointment.
  • Be specific when describing your symptoms (when it started, where it hurts, what you’ve tried already to deal with it, etc.).
  • Some doctors may (unfortunately) take you more seriously if you mention that you go to Columbia.
  • If a doctor is ignoring you or trying to bulldoze over you when you know you need something, ask them to put a note in your chart saying what you are asking for. For example, if you’re trying to get a change in dosage or lab work that you know you need, ask them to put a note in your chart that you asked for it and they denied your request.
  • Ask your medical providers questions! It’s their job to give you information about your health, and you have a right to know.
  • Remember that your feelings and experiences are valid, even when it feels overwhelming to advocate for yourself.
  • If you leave the appointment and realize that you have a question you forgot to ask, get in touch with the office or find out if there is a patient portal to send a message through.

Good luck!

Doctor image via Pixabay