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Tips for Having a Productive Doctor's Appointment

Find out how to arrive prepared for your next doctor’s visit, and how a master’s in public health degree can help you become a public health professional.

Health professionals with a public health degree will tell you that visiting your doctor regularly is the key to staying healthy. But you don’t need a master’s in public health to understand the importance of getting checkups, health screenings, and vaccinations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 84% of adults and 92% of children had contact with a healthcare professional in the past year1. Americans made more than 990 million visits to their physicians’ offices in 2015, 51% of which were to primary care physicians.

Seeing a doctor can be stressful, though. Long times spent in waiting rooms, high healthcare costs, and negative past experiences are just a few reasons why some avoid seeking medical care2. If it’s time to see your doctor, prepare for a productive appointment with the following tips offered by professionals with jobs in public health.

Tips for Having a Productive Doctor's Appointment

Things to Do Before Your Checkup

Regular doctor visits can help keep you healthy and prevent disease and disability. Before you head to your next appointment, the CDC recommends that you come prepared by following these four steps3:

  • Review your family health history. If any of your close relatives have health conditions or diseases, it’s important to let your doctor know—conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer can be genetic. The more doctors know about family health, the more they can assess the risk for developing certain conditions.
  • Check to see if you’re due for any vaccinations or health screenings. Vaccinations are not just for children. There are a number of immunizations that require a booster shot in adulthood or are recommended for older adults who are at higher risk of complications from some conditions.
  • Write down questions or health issues you want to discuss with your doctor. The best way to be prepared for an appointment is to come knowing what you’d like to discuss. For example, if you’ve experienced any changes to your health, weight, eating habits, or sleep, you should discuss it with your doctor.
  • Think about your future. If you’re planning on making any big changes in your life—whether it be quitting smoking, having a baby, or visiting an exotic destination—it’s important to talk to your doctor to help make healthy decisions.

The Day of Your Appointment

Too much time spent in doctor’s office waiting rooms can be frustrating, but one of the best ways to avoid a long wait is to show up the recommended 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled time. This gives you adequate time to fill out forms and make any necessary updates to your information and insurance coverage. Arriving before your scheduled time helps keep your doctor on schedule as well.

Once you’re in with your doctor, be sure to mention any medications or supplements you’re taking. It’s important to be honest and not leave out any details about your current health or health history, as this could lead to a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a possible health issue. Doctors have heard and seen it all, and everything you tell your doctor is confidential—so you have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

After Your Appointment

Be sure to follow your doctor’s health recommendations. Ignoring professional medical advice can have life-threatening consequences, prevent you from achieving your wellness goals, and send you back to the doctor’s office too quickly. If your doctor has recommended a follow-up visit, schedule it as soon as possible to make sure it’s available when your doctor would like to see you again.

Public Health Majors Can Help People Stay Healthy

If you’re passionate about keeping people healthy and want to earn a degree, getting your master’s in public health degree can be an important first step in becoming a public health professional. Walden University offers a number of programs in public health, including a PhD in Public Health, a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), a Master of Public Health (MPH), a BS in Public Health, and a Graduate Certificate in Public Health. All of these online degree and certificate programs are designed to train the next generation of public health professionals and prepare students for rewarding jobs in public health.

Qualified public health professionals are needed, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% increase in jobs over the next 10 years5. When you earn your master’s in Walden’s MS in Public Health program, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to empower people to adopt healthy behaviors and work to prevent illness.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn a degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,