7 things you can do to prepare for your next doctor appointment

19 May 2023

Whether it’s your first visit with a new doctor or a routine checkup with your longtime healthcare provider, it’s always best to be prepared. Your doctor first learns about your overall well-being by asking questions—and so do you. You can—and should—ask questions too, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that when you’re actually in the appointment with your doctor. Preparing ahead of time helps enable a much more efficient and productive appointment.

Here are seven ways you can prepare for your primary care visit with your doctor.

Make a list of your symptoms

Before your appointment, take some time to make a list of any symptoms you're experiencing. This can include anything from a persistent cough to joint pain or headaches. By having a list ready, you can remember to mention anything important to your doctor.

Remember: your doctor will examine you—but they may not find things without you telling them about what’s going on in your body from your perspective. Hearing from you can help them deliver even more precise care.

Write down questions you have about your health or care

In addition to your symptoms, make a list of any questions you have for your doctor. This could be anything from asking for clarification about a medication you're taking to inquiring about lifestyle changes that could improve your health. It’s also beneficial to learn about and then ask your doctor about any recommended health screenings coming up based on your age.


5 main ways to improve your health via lifestyle changes include:

  • Quitting or avoiding smoking
  • Eating a healthier diet
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Avoiding drinking too much alcohol
  • Getting screened


Know when to call your doc vs. a new one

You may also want ask about the right time to call your primary care doctor about a medical concern—and whether or not you should see a different doctor or a specialist based on that concern. Your primary care doctor can help you navigate with helpful advice based on your precise care and what they already know about you. That’s because your primary care provider is there to help you with your entire health—and if a specialist is needed, they will help you find the exact right one to help with your specific health needs.

Bring a list of medications

Bring a list of medications you are taking to your appointment. This includes both prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements or vitamins. Even something simple like an everyday allergy pill is vital information for your doctor—the more complete your overall picture of health is, the more precise your doctor can be.

Get blood tests before your appointment

It’s likely your primary care doctor will periodically run blood tests to assess your overall health. However, you are also empowered to purchase wellness tests directly and get results that can provide important information about your health, both generally and for more specific issues. You can then share your results with your primary care doctor—saving you both time and enhancing your health visit with more specific information about your health.

Prepare for your next doctor’s visit by testing early with wellness tests and more from Labcorp OnDemand.

Bring any relevant medical records

Bring copies of the records to your appointment, including any recent medical tests or procedures. This can help your provider get a better understanding of your overall health and any conditions you may be managing. Chronic conditions and diseases are more common than we think—6 in 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 have two or more. Chronic conditions require unique, precise care, so the more you can discuss your condition with your doctor, the better.

Bring something to help take notes

During your appointment, take notes on any recommendations or instructions your doctor gives you. Keep them in a safe, convenient place where you can always find them. This can help you remember important details about medication and any follow-up care.

Sample questions for your visit

  • What vaccinations do I need?
  • Does my family’s health put me at risk for certain diseases?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to lower my risks?
  • What other health screenings or tests do I need?
  • When should I schedule my next visit?

Learn more about other proactive steps you can take before your next doctor’s appointment by visiting our Count On You site.