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Eight Steps Toward Better Communication with Your Healthcare Provider

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Hey, here’s news: Women aren’t daintier than men. Obvious? Sure, but for most of modern medicine, research and training was male-focused, and the repercussions have been dramatic. Throw pervasive gender bias into the healthcare disparity stew, and you get a lot of women not receiving the care they need.

That’s not the responsibility of patients, and we’re working hard to make sure our medical professionals are sensitive to women’s needs, their unique symptoms, and changing their well-documented expectations that they won’t be heard.

Still, communication is always a two-way street, and talking with a physician can be challenging. You’re often engaged in that conversation because something hurts, you don’t feel right, or you’re worried about a physical change. Worry is a tough place to start.

You’ll get more from your appointment with some tips that help you communicate clearly and move toward understanding with your physician.

  • Bring detailed notes. Start as far out from your appointment as possible. If you can show symptoms by day, you also give your doctor insight into trends that can help. At a minimum, you’ll be able to ensure you ask all the questions that have occurred to you and explain all of your concerns.
  • Be forthcoming. Your practitioner isn’t asking personal questions to pass judgment but to find clues about your health. The more candid you are, the closer you both get to answers.
  • Ask for clarification. Stop your provider anytime you hear something you don’t fully understand. You are entitled to clarity from your provider about your health. And if a question occurs to you after your visit, follow up.
  • Repeat what you hear. Letting your physician know what you heard doesn’t just let you know you got it right; it lets them know they said what they meant clearly and gives them a chance to correct it if not.
  • Take notes. Chances are good that you’re going to get a lot of information, and it’d be easy to let a good portion of it slip away, especially because you’re feeling stress about your health.
  • Share your concerns. Women learn from an early age to downplay their feelings and minimize their pain. Underselling your symptoms may stand in the way of treatment. Say what you feel, physically and emotionally.
  • Remember your doctor is human, too. Lab coat or no, humans appreciate patience and kindness. You’ll likely work better together if each of you can see a person trying their hardest in a challenging situation.
  • Patience doesn’t mean staying quiet. Yes, we advocate for working respectfully together, but we advocate, more than anything, for healthy outcomes. If you feel your provider isn’t understanding your concerns, press on until you know you’ve been heard. Your provider has the information advantage medically, but you know much more about what’s normal and what’s concerning for you. 

We’re always ready to listen to our patients because we know that’s the first step to delivering great care. Learn more about our exceptional women’s care and let us help you find a doctor to fit your unique needs.

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