How to Get the Most from Your Physician Visit

Above: Stacey O’Brien, M.D., Primary Care Physician (PCP) with WellStar Family Medicine in Woodstock.

Ever walked out of your doctor’s office, and remembered something important you needed to ask? It’s a common problem that’s easily solved: Take time to prepare for your visit. Here are some tips from Stacey O’Brien, M.D., Primary Care Physician (PCP) with WellStar Family Medicine in Woodstock.

How should I prepare?
Come prepared to answer the basic who, what, when, where questions: When did the issue first begin? Can you be specific on where it is located? Have any features of your day-to-day routine changed, such as diet, stress level, exposures, etc.? Are you taking any new supplements? Have you traveled? If it’s a more generalized illness: Has anyone experienced similar symptoms? If it’s a rash, where did it begin? When appropriate, TAKE A PICTURE! So many times an issue develops on Friday night, then when I see the patient on Tuesday morning the rash or lesion has cleared. A photo is immensely helpful.

Is it OK to bring someone with me?
Of course! One person can be very helpful; bringing in the whole family, however, is generally more of a distraction and is often not advised.

Should I bring my medications? Supplements?
Yes, bring everything you’re taking, whether OTC (over the counter) or prescribed. Also bring a list of any new foods you’re eating.

Some information is embarrassing; must I be totally honest about my health habits?
For a provider to diagnose and treat you fully and effectively, having ALL the information is best. Often we can identify a personal component without the patient even needing to disclose information, but the more we know, the better we can treat you.

What if I have trouble understanding what my doctor tells me?
Please ask for clarification! We can become caught up in the moment and when we see the patient nodding during our explanations, we assume everything is understood. We are here to help and serve our patients. Ensuring you understand anything discussed is vital—be it medications, test results or a diagnosis.

What if I have questions after I leave?
Call the office. If you’re a WellStar patient, use the patient portal to send messages directly to the staff and provider.

I read something on the internet about my condition—can’t I just use that info instead of discussing with my doctor?
The internet has a wealth of information—some that is valid and beneficial and some that can be harmful. I tell my patients to learn as much as they can about their DIAGNOSIS from sites that we discuss as trustworthy but not to research general symptoms. Without a detailed understanding of medicine, looking up symptoms often leads to more questions and concerns.

How can I tell if my physician is right for me?
Personality plays an important role. The best physician is one who listens and has an approach to medicine that fits your personality.

What procedures can be performed in the office? Why is this an advantage for me?
Your physician and front office staff will be able to tell you what can be performed in the office. When your PCP is able to perform some of the basic non-invasive procedures in the office, it often saves time and money.

What are your top tips for positively impacting my health?
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise, and have a positive outlook (stress reduction is key). These are the cornerstones of good health.

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Family Medicine
Stacey O’Brien, M.D.
Vicky Bryan, NP
14205 Highway 92, Suite 105
Woodstock, GA 30188