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Working With Your Health Care Team

Here are some guidelines to help you make the most of the doctor-patient relationship.

It's no wonder that, in this age of managed health care and hectic schedules, many cancer patients feel they don't get enough one-on-one time to talk with their doctors. While there's not much you can do to make appointments longer, you can make the most of the time you have.

Think of yourself as a partner rather than as a passive participant. You'll need to be well-educated about your illness and motivated to take an active role in the doctor-patient relationship.

Remember that the doctor-patient relationship is a two-way street. Here are some guidelines to help you make the most of the relationship:

  • Plan ahead. Write down your questions before your appointment and prioritize them so that if you're short on time, you get answers to the most important ones first.
  • Be factual about your symptoms. Keep a symptom diary and bring it to appointments. It may help clarify what you are going through.
  • Use your own language. When the doctor says something to you, repeat it in your own words to make sure you understand what's being said.
  • Ask for clarification. Don't be shy about having the doctor explain anything you don't completely understand.
  • Bring a tape recorder. You can play back the conversation later if you don't remember a detail or if something wasn't clear. Also, you will have a record of what was discussed.



Printed with permission from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center © 2010.

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