Prep for Appointments

Getting the most from your medical appointments

What to ExpectMedical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurse navigators, oncology-trained nurses, social workers, nutritionists and others may be part of your care team. They’ll work closely with you and with each other to create a personalized treatment plan that’s right for you.

In the midst of seeing multiple specialists in a short span of time, it’s common for patients to feel overwhelmed with appointments and information. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your first visits:

  • write down your questions or concerns ahead of time and bring them with you
  • take a relative or friend along to help you remember everything
  • don’t hesitate to take notes, or have someone take notes for you, if you find it helpful
  • ask questions along the way (if you wait until the end of the appointment, you may forget them)
  • ask for an explanation if you don’t understand something – your care providers will share as much information and education as you find comfortable at any point in time

What to bring with you:

  • a list of your medications and dosages, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements
  • any requested medical information, test results, x-rays or forms
  • contact information for a referring physician, if you have one
  • insurance information, including all insurance cards
  • your living will or other health care directive (if you don’t have one, we’ll be happy to help)
  • an activity, such as a book, knitting project or something similar, to help pass the time between appointments

What you need to know after every appointment

Make sure you know the next step after each of your cancer-related medical appointments. You may wish to keep a calendar or file so that all of your records are stored in one place. Before you leave each appointment, make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  1. What is my main problem or concern right now?
  2. What do I need to do about this problem or concern?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?
  4. What is the next step in my treatment and when is my next appointment?