Talking to health care providers can be difficult, overwhelming and, at times, scary. Here are some tips to help you communicate with health care providers.
  • Make sure to ask for a long enough appointment. Sometimes appointments are very rushed. If you know that you will have a lot to talk about with your provider, ask for an extended appointment so you don't run out of time.
  • Tell your provider everything you can about yourself, what you do, and how you feel. The more information the provider has, the more helpful he or she can be.
  • Say what you think - and be honest.
  • Be assertive. Be nice, but persistent.
  • Bring a list of questions and concerns. It's easy to forget things when you're sitting there, in the provider's office. A written list of questions, concerns, or other things you want to make sure to tell the provider will help you remember everything that's been on your mind.
  • Tell the provider to be honest and to tell you everything. You're entitled to know all about your condition, your treatment, and any options that might be available to you.
  • Ask questions. Remember - there's no such thing as a stupid question. If you don't understand an answer to a question, ask the provider to explain it again until you do understand it.
  • Write down what the provider says. That will help you remember later on.
  • Bring someone with you, if you'd like. Sometimes it helps to have someone else there for support, to hear what the provider has to say, or to ask questions that you might not think of.
  • Ask your parents to wait outside the exam room so you have some time alone to talk to the provider, if you'd like. Sometimes that helps the provider focus on you and what you have to say. Your parents can come back in after you've had a chance to talk to the provider yourself. Then they can ask their questions.
  • If you need help, ask for it.
  • When visiting a new provider, ask the provider about his or her background and experience.
  • Even if you've seen your provider for a long time, it's ok to ask about the provider's background and what his or her experience has been.
  • Call back if you have any questions after the appointment. Sometimes questions come up after you get home, or you forget something the provider said. It's ok to call and follow up with more questions.
  • Learn about your insurance coverage. What services are covered and what procedures do you have to follow to get those services?

Adapted from Transition Planning for Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities. Institute for Community Inclusion, 2000.