Speaking with Doctors

When you notice a change in how you feel, it is important to share these changes with others, such as a family member, a caregiver or a family physician. Talking about your concerns will help you to get the support and care you need to stay healthy.

Talking About Your Health

When you are ready to share your health concerns, it’s important to talk to others so they can assist you to get the help you need.

Here are a few tips on talking about your health

  • Use descriptive words. Examples are: dull, hot, intense or piercing, etc.
  • Explain how the changes effects the things you like to do and give examples.
  • Explain how and what you are feeling, and don’t be afraid to point. In some cases, a picture or drawing can help.
  • Writing your concerns in detail in a diary will help your family doctor to treat your concern. Example: “I feel worse at night rather than daytime.”

Adapted from: Center for Advancing Health: Talking about Symptoms with your Healthcare team

Healthy Aging Tip

Create positive expectations of yourself, your health, and life in general. When you catch yourself using negative self-talk or predicting a bad outcome, stop. Reframe your thought into a positive one, and speak it out loud or write it down2.

Seeing a Family Physician

Finding a Family Physician

A family physician – patient relationship is important.

If you are looking for a family physician, visit the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia website for an online directory of family physicians in British Columbia. The directory identifies family physicians who are accepting new patients; and it can be searched by name, location and additional languages spoken.

If you are looking for a Nurse Practitioner visit the British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association website to locate a Nurse Practitioner in your area.

For more information or support in finding a family physician, visit the A GP for Me website.

Getting the Most out of Your Appointment

  • Have a family member or caregiver with you during your appointment, if possible. He or she can take notes, ask questions to clarify information, and help you remember what your family physician says.
  • Ask for instructions and have them written down. Before you leave the family physician’s office, make sure you know what you are supposed to do to care for yourself.
  • Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your family physician if you are having problems.
  • Keep a list of medications (including herbals and over the counter medications, like cold remedies) and bring it to your appointment.
  • You may want to keep a copy of your test results for home.
  • If you are a family member or a caregiver, prepare the individual prior to a test and/or an examination. Let them know why they are seeing a family physician and what will be done during the visit. The Individual’s developmental level will determine how best to prepare him or her. Ask the individual if he or she would like to speak to the family physician alone.
  • Look above at the ‘Talking About Your Health’ section for tips on how to talk to your family physician.

Adapted from: Healthlink BC: Learn All You Can From Your Doctor and Healthlink BC: Making the Most of your Appointment

Preparing for Your Appointment

Your family physician is an expert on medical care, but you are the expert on your feelings and body. It is important to prepare for your visit to ensure you make the most of your appointment3.

Preparation Checklist

  • Review what is bothering you and write notes
  • Note examples of the changes you are experiencing
  • Prepare your questions for the family physician
  • Bring a notebook to record notes from the family physician
  • Bring your current medications list
  • Make sure you have your CareCard or BC Services Card
  • Contact the office in advance for special accommodation and considerations
  • Record the reason for your appointment
  • Share with your family physician any relevant background information regarding your health history
Doctor's Appointment Checklist

Download this PDF checklist to help prepare for your next doctor’s appointment.

During Your Appointment

During your appointment, you will need to answer some important questions so that you and your family physician can plan your care together.

  • Communicate why you are here and what you would like to know from your family physician.
  • Share your story.
  • Share your symptoms, relevant health history, and the list of medications that you take.
  • Don’t forget about your emotional health; it influences your physical health.
  • Your health is worth the family physician’s time. Repeat what the family physician has told you to be sure you understand and ask for clarification if needed.
  • Try to reach an agreement about the recommended treatment plan.
  • Go through question list with your family physician.
  • Communicate in the way you feel most comfortable in listening and speaking.
  • Remember to keep notes of the appointment.
  • Medicine is one of the many tools your family physician has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your family physician suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don’t take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health, and perhaps your life, at risk. Ask your family physician or pharmacist what the medicine is for and how it will help you. Ask if there is anything (side effects) you should look out for and if you should let your family physician know if this happens or if the medicine does not work as it is supposed to.

Important information to gather from your family physician

  • Changes in/or prescription for medication
  • Notes on modifications to your activities
  • Family physician follow up date/time

Adapted from Healthlink BC: Learn All You Can From Your Doctor

Sources & Citations

1. The Center for Advancing Health. (2014). Talking About Symptoms with your Healthcare Team.

2. HealthlinkBC. (2016). Healthy Aging: Emotional and Mental Vitality.

3. HealthlinkBC. (2016). Making the Most of Your Appointment.

4. HealthlinkBC. (2016). Learn All You Can From Your Doctor.



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