As a young adult or college student, setting up and going to the doctor's office without a parent for the first time may seem daunting. This is especially true if you are no longer in your hometown so you must see a new doctor. Fortunately, this rite of passage into adulthood can usually go smoothly, and the following tips can help.
Tip #1: Find a family clinic
Chances are you were seeing a pediatrician back home if you were still in your teens, as many pediatricians continue to treat their patients until they are 20 or 21 years old. Although you no longer have that option, a family clinic, such as Crabapple Family Medicine, may be more comfortable than a general practitioner's office. Family clinics have doctors used to working with patients at all age ranges, so they are better versed in communication styles that work well with young adults and they may seem more approachable.
Tip #2: Prepare for the paperwork
You have probably never had to fill out the paperwork required for a first visit before. Be aware that it can take awhile, so it's best to show up 30 minutes early to get it done. You will need to bring your insurance cards, identification, and information on your family health history. Contact information for your previous doctor may also be necessary. Some offices will email you the information, which allows you to fill out the intake forms at home prior to the appointment. Don't be afraid to ask about this service.
Tip #3: Make a list
As a young adult, you may not have too many health concerns. Make sure you write down any that you do have, though. It's common to go blank while actually meeting with the doctor. Make a list in the weeks leading up to the appointment about anything you would like to ask about as it pertains to your health. Also, take notes when the doctor answers your questions or provides advice, since you don't want to forget anything important.
Tip #4: Find out the expectations
So you went to the doctor, what next? You may need to ask for a plan. Find out how often you should be coming in to see the doctor, as well as any tests you should have or schedule. For example, a healthy young adult probably only needs one well visit checkup a year. This usually includes bloodwork to check your cholesterol levels and other health markers. Depending on your age and gender, there may also be recommended health screenings due that year. Find out and schedule all of these before you leave the office, when possible.
For more help or to find a doctor, contact a family clinic in your area.