Be Your Own Health Care Professional

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I grew up in an age when rural Saskatchewan doctors made house calls. They also did hospital rounds and ran a clinic. Lab work and x-rays were done in one location – at the local hospital. Specialists were almost unheard of and that meant that the local doctor needed to deal with pretty well everything.

Now clinics have huge waiting lists of people who do not have a family physician. Some end up waiting for hours at a time in a triage system at the local Emergency ward.

  1. Keep good records – Start a book or electronic site where you record information. Before you go to see a physician or health professional, write down all the concerning symptoms as well as your questions. Make sure that your book has a list of the medications that you are taking. Your pharmacist will provide a copy for you. During or immediately after your appointment you can write down new information that your physician has provided you. Keeping track of all your appointments and health concerns in this book will help you to keep accurate information without having to try to remember things. A secure clip on the front of your book will allow you to safety hold new prescription requisitions or other handouts received during appointments.
  2. Watch for change – Are you losing or gaining weight? When did you first start experiencing new pain or notice unfamiliar bumps and bruises? Make written notes about these things in your boo.
  3. Do your research – The library, computer and acquaintances are all good sources for learning about health, illness and treatment.
  4. Be wise – Ensuring that you eat a nutritious diet and get enough rest are the foundation of good health care practice. Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption as well as your stress. Exercise, find positive ways to contribute to society and laugh!
  5. Be a good advocate for you – Remember, physicians are extremely busy. It is up to you to follow up if you haven’t heard by the date given. I see many clients who wait for information thinking that “someone” will call them and “someone” never calls. Be pro-active. Also, be willing to ask if there is a cancellation list that you can be on if your next appointment is far down the road. If you have trouble understanding or remembering details, ask a friend or family member to attend your appointment with you and make notes. You are in the “business” of health care.

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