Here is a checklist to help you prepare for your medical appointment.

Maybe it has been a while since you last had a medical appointment, or maybe you have “white coat syndrome” which makes you nervous when you have an appointment. Plan to make the most of the time you spend with your health care provider. You may be asked to complete certain forms upon arrival. It can be hard to remember when you had this surgery or the medical issues in the family. Take the time to gather the information and think about what you want to ask during your date.

As you prepare, write it down and take the notes with you to the date. Check to see if you can have someone with you during the date. If you want an interpreter, let the office know in advance.

If you are the caregiver, similar preparation is needed.

Why are you going to the medical appointment?

This may seem like an obvious question; However, you want to think about it in advance. If you see your primary care provider, think about how you are feeling and any changes in activities of daily living. Have there been any changes in your eyesight, hearing, balance, pain, sleep patterns, diet, weight gain or loss? Differences in your level of physical activity? Ask your friends or family if they’ve noticed any changes that you might want to let the medical team know about.

If you see a specialist, think about why you were sent to the specialist. And if you don’t know why you are seeing the specialist, ask.

What is your medical history and what is your family medical history?

What medical problems do family members have? These can be familial and it is important for your healthcare team to know about them.

How is your mental health?

Have you been under stress? Have there been any major changes in your life recently? Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling.

What other tests or labs have you had recently?

Ask the medical team to tell you what the results mean.

If they tell you to have lab tests, blood tests, an x-ray, or other tests after the appointment, ask them why the tests are being ordered.

What should I take with me to a date?

• Insurance card.

• At a minimum, a list of your medications. Better yet, take the medicine vials with you, as the label says the dosage and how often you take it. Include a list of over-the-counter medications.

• When you make your appointment, ask them if they have a health history form that can be sent to you. If you are registered in the supplier’s electronic file, there may be a form available online that you can complete in advance. There are health history forms on the Internet to help you prepare for your appointment. The Johns Hopkins Patient History Form is available on the Internet.

• A note pad. Your health care provider will be happy that you are so engaged. Remember, you are part of your healthcare team.

If you have a question you want answered, go to, click on “opinion” and “submit letter or column”.

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