Did you know that the average medical appointment is about 15 minutes long? When I first started working as a physician assistant, I had the luxury of building extra time in my appointment schedule for more complex cases. That luxury faded away over the years and most patients were scheduled every 15 minutes regardless of their problem or concern.

That schedule is frustrating for both the patient and the provider. The patient may be thinking, “I have waited three months for this appointment and I have a lot to discuss.” The provider, on the other hand, has been given the difficult task of helping you with your concerns in 15 minutes or less.

Being prepared for your appointments is essential to achieving a better outcome. Prior to each visit, prepare a handwritten list of questions or concerns. Next put that list in order of priority and address the top concern first. Your list could also include new symptoms you are having, or a reminder of what prescription refills you need. Patients who come prepared and ask questions will get more satisfaction from their visit.