By Victoria Marie, #GoGetItLIFE Contributing Writer
Picture yourself walking into the doctor’s office for an appointment. Right away, you are surrounded by professionals – doctors, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and more. In a place full of professionals, with years of education and experience, who is the expert?
The answer: You.
Maybe they have a degree that you don’t, more education than you might have. While their knowledge is a valuable resources, it is only useful when combined with the knowledge you bring to the table as a patient. You know your body. You know what your “normal” feels like, and you know when something feels wrong. You know when something starts to get in the way of the things you want and need to do in your life.
You are the expert when it comes to your own health.
It may not feel like it, especially in a healthcare environment where your doctor might make you feel rushed during your appointments, or when you feel like the professionals aren’t listening to your input. That is why it’s important to advocate for yourself – to speak up, to take on the role of “expert”, and to direct the conversation. To get started, there are three simple tools that can help you.
- Direction. In any healthcare interaction, have a purpose. A doctor’s appointment might only last 10 or 15 minutes. Bring up your concerns right off the bat to make sure that you don’t need to rush through them at the end of your visit.
- Confidence. Own the role of expert, because you are the expert on your own body. Bring up what feels wrong or different, because you are the only one who knows how that feels. Be adamant that it matters to you that these things are discussed.
- Curiosity. Ask questions, especially if your doctor orders a new medication, treatment, or test. You have the right to know about the risks, benefits, and alternatives. When you have all of this information, you also have the right to refuse.
When it comes down to it, your health is something precious that you own. Doctors and other healthcare professionals want to help you, but you make the decisions – you call the shots! Speak up for yourself, inform yourself, and empower yourself to be as healthy as you can be!