Notes from the Parish Nurse


This week I would like to share with you some tips on making the most of your healthcare provider visit.
Be prepared-
• When you schedule your appointment, mention the reason(s) for the visit- this helps the scheduler give you the time you need to address those issues with your healthcare provider, as appointments are scheduled according to the number of issues or the complexity.
• Bringing an adult family member or friend to accompany you can be very helpful.  They may note things that you forget to mention. Upon request, as your Parish Nurse, I am available to meet you at your healthcare provider’s office and accompany you to your appointment, as well as help you prepare your questions and list of symptoms.  Just give a me a call or email!
• Your provider will want to know how long you have had the symptoms and what makes them better or worse. If an infection is suspected, take your temperature, and write it down. What home remedies/ over the counter medications have you tried and did they help. Have you seen any other healthcare providers (chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, physical therapist, etc.) for these symptoms?  Are your symptoms connected to any activity, food, stress or life situation. If pain is a symptom, what is the pain level on a scale of 1-10. (1 is you barely notice it, 5 is moderate, 10 is incapacitating, such as a severe migraine or childbirth, and you cannot distract yourself out of it.) Make a list of answers to the above to bring with you.
• Make a list of all the questions you want to ask- trust me, you will not remember them all! Bring a pen to note the answers on your questions list.
• Note any new prescription medications, such as from the ER or another healthcare provider, new over the counter medications, and/or supplements you started taking since the last visit. It is best to bring a list of all your current meds and supplements, or bring them all in their original bottles. Even though they are noted in your chart, the nurse will want to double check them.
During the visit-
• Ask questions! If you are not sure what the healthcare provider is saying, ask them to explain it again. Takes notes or ask them to write it down for you.
• Ask if there are educational materials available to help you understand better
• Ask what the options are for treatment
• If tests are ordered, ask- what will they tell you, how do you prepare for them, when should the results be back?
• If new medication is ordered, ask- what does it do, how long do you take it, does it need to be taken on a full or empty stomach, is taking it in the morning or evening better, what are the side effects, how long before you see results?
• Any lifestyle changes needed?
• When should a follow up appointment be scheduled?
After the visit-
• Do you understand the healthcare provider’s instructions? If not, call his/her nurse.
• Are you feeling better after doing the recommended treatment? If not, call and schedule a follow up appointment.
Hmmm…hey there, healthcare providers, let me know if I forgot anything!

Lori Nitchals, Parish Nurse

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