Talk to your doctor – don’t be nervous

A woman talking to her doctor- talk to your doctor

Do you worry about how to talk to your doctor? You may not be sure how open you should be or what the rules are.

Finding a doctor you like and trust in the USA is a bit challenging, especially for those who don’t speak English. When I first came to this country, I didn’t care about having my own primary care provider. I would just go to any clinic when I needed to.

But  I came to understand that having one regular doctor to visit is important. If you see the same person every time, they get to know you and you do not have to repeat your health history.

I started to search for one regular doctor. I searched on a website with hospitals/clinics that are close to me to see what kind of services they provided. Being a woman, I preferred to see and be checked by a woman doctor.It was important to me for feeling comfortable and my sense of privacy.

I chose a clinic and a doctor, called the office, and spoke to the doctor’s nurse. I found out about the doctor’s schedule to see if it would fit with mine. I’ decided she was  a good fit with me and I started seeing her since then until now.

Having the same sex does make a difference when communicating with your doctor. So, you might want to choose the doctor with the same sex as you if you have the choice. Each time I spoke to my doctor, I felt that she already understood where I came from and where I’m going. It’s much easier to talk to your doctor if you are the same sex.

The only problem is that since my cultural background is different, I sometimes had to stop and make sure she understood what I wanted.

My advice is, if you think your doctor isn’t clear about what you said, don’t hesitate to repeat the information or interrupt. Because it’s very important for both of you to be on the same page when you talk to your doctor.

And also, if English isn’t your first language, please do ask for an interpreter. You have the right to ask for one, and they MUST provide you with an interpreter.

Back home my doctor and I spoke the same language, came from the same culture, and we both knew the DOs and the DON’Ts.

Where I came from, you can talk to your doctor very openly without worrying about whether or nor your words is breaking any rules or laws.  And your doctor would take as much time as you need to talk to you. She would even schedule to come see you at your place.

Here, you stay only for the amount of time each patient is given. Time is gold and it might seem like the longer you stay, the more you pay.

Sometimes you may see a doctor who is rushed and leaves the room in no time. If you keep having the same problem, feel free to choose new provider.

The most surprising thing that I experienced with my doctor is that, no matter how many times I see her, our relationship is still doctor and patient.

Back home, once you started building the relationship with your doctor, you would be treated as family and feel like it. In here in USA, with all the rules and laws, you have to keep your distance or else the doctor could get in trouble.  So, if you feel that your doctor is keeping distance with you, understand that this is their culture. It’s not your fault, and that there is nothing you could do. And, when I visit my doctor, I always learn something new about the healthcare system in US or even US culture itself.

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About Ying Yu