People will be a big part of your success – and no person is more important than your dermatologist. Taking some time to prepare for your appointments will help ensure that you communicate openly and effectively and cover what you need to know.
Almost half of psoriasis patients in Canada have not seen a health care provider in the past 12 months for their psoriasis. To make matters worse, there is a decline in the number of dermatologists across the country and getting in to see one can be very difficult. Many patients wait a minimum of six weeks in urban areas and much longer (up to two years!) in rural areas.
When you finally have an appointment, make the most of the very limited time you may have with your dermatologist. Follow these simple steps so you will leave your appointment armed with the information and advice that you came for.
Before your appointment
Your medical history is an important piece for your dermatologist. Do your homework and write down your history and any concerns that you may have before going to your appointment. This will save you time and will give you confidence that you have provided your dermatologist with all the critical information he or she requires.
Make a list of:
- Current medications
- Symptoms and when you began experiencing them, and whether they have worsened or improved. When describing your symptoms and the impact they have on your life, be as specific as possible.
- Questions you have about your condition
Always take a note pad and pen and take notes. You will be glad to have the information after your appointment to refer back to, and you will avoid forgetting anything important. If you can, take a trusted friend or relative with you, they will be able to help you remember what was said and be valuable support.
During your appointment
It is important to have an open flow of communication with your dermatologist. Make sure all your questions are answered in a way that you understand. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you don't understand something, or ask for it be explained again more simply.
- Be sure to ask what the long- and short-term effects are of your diagnosis.
- Find out how the proposed treatments are likely to affect you, what side effects there may be and what lifestyle changes may be necessary to ensure a positive outcome
- Ask your dermatologist to write down any instructions to you so you can have them to reference in the future. Request clarification for anything you are uncertain about
- Repeat back to your dermatologist the key points of your discussion to be sure you have everything
Ask your dermatologist if there are any resources that can be shared with you about your psoriasis
- If you are not comfortable with the proposed treatment plan, say so! It is important to be honest with your doctor so that you can find a treatment plan that works for you and meets your expectations . You and your doctor are a team that will work better if you have common treatment goals
- Before you leave, review your list to make sure you have covered everything you planned. Unanswered questions could lead to delay as a future appointment may be weeks or even months away
Preparation is key. Taking the time prepare for your appointment in advance will allow you to engage in a meaningful discussion with your dermatologist. You will come away ready to put your prevention and treatment plan into action!