A teen’s guide to talking to your doctor

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Olivia Rowland is a senior at Chelsea High School and a member of the Teen Advisory Council at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Even if our doctors just can’t speak on the same level as us, I can’t stress enough how important it is that we ask questions when we are confused. It can be a little scary to ask someone as intimidating as a doctor to change the way they explain something to you, but the benefit that you’ll get in doing so can be crucial.

I’ve also come to learn that doctors can’t do everything on their own.  My doctor can’t read my mind, and if there is something going on that he didn’t already ask me about, I need to speak up.  A large part of any healing process comes down to us working together with our doctors, sharing information with them and making sure that we walk away from an appointment understanding exactly what is happening to our bodies, and what the next step is.

It’s also helpful to understand that being in the doctor’s office can be stressful, so sometimes it helps to make a list of questions ahead of time so you don’t have to remember everything on the spot.  Here are some questions you can use:

When you are given your diagnosis…

  • Can you draw me a picture to help me understand?
  • Will there be any long-term effects of this problem?
  • Are there any activities or foods I should avoid?
  • When can I go back to school?

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