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Five things you should tell nursing staff before your primary care appointment

Want to make the most of your primary care appointment? Consider sharing helpful health information with the nursing staff you meet before you see your primary care physician.
The key to a successful visit with your primary care physician begins with the nursing staff you meet before your appointment.
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The key to a successful visit with your primary care physician begins with the nursing staff you meet before your appointment.

It’s common for people to arrive at their appointment with a list of health-related questions and concerns. But some patients wait until the doctor is in the room to share those questions and concerns. Telling a nursing staff member prior to the physician’s arrival can help you make the most of your appointment.

The nursing staff who take your blood pressure, temperature and pulse are an important resource, and they are best-equipped to do their job when they’re well-informed about your health. When necessary, they can also relay that information to your physician.

So which details are important to share?

We asked Linda Wick, the executive director of nursing for University of Minnesota Physicians, and Deb Cathcart, the University of Minnesota Health chief nurse executive, to share five important pointers with us. Scroll down to read more.

Prescription Medications

If you are experiencing side effects or have concerns about your current medication, let the nursing staff know immediately so the problems can be documented. This way your physician will have this information already when they come to see you. Also, if you need any medications refilled, please inform your nursing staff.

If you are taking vitamins, weight loss supplements or probiotics, please provide this information to the nursing staff at your visit. It is important to include these items in your chart so that nursing staff and your doctor have an accurate overview of everything you are taking. Vitamin, supplement or probiotic use may also cause health effects—which can then be easily identified and addressed by the doctor.

Family History Changes

You may have already provided your family history for your records, but remember that your history can change over time. For that reason, it is important to ensure the information in your chart is up to date. If a parent or family member was recently diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, for example, consider informing nursing staff so they can update the information accordingly.

Home Monitoring Information

If you monitor your blood glucose level, blood pressure or other aspects of your health at home, please provide a summary of your records for inclusion in your chart. This information is important for your physician to have, and incorporating it into your chart can help ensure accuracy in your file.

Food and Exercise Diaries

Today’s technology allows you to monitor calories, exercise and weight easily. This is useful information and you should considering providing it to nursing staff during your visit. Simply print the information prior to your appointment—it may be the key to ensuring long-term health and will allow your physician to more easily analyze your food and exercise routines. 

List of Current Symptoms

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or other unexplained health issues, don’t wait until your physician enters the room to voice your concerns. Instead, inform nursing staff right away so proper monitoring begins immediately if needed. If you have specific health questions related to your symptoms, we recommend that you tell your nursing staff. They will communicate this to the provider, who will then be better prepared to discuss your concerns during the following appointment. 

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