Writing down questions and knowing your health history are just a few ways you can prepare for a first appointment with confidence.
The journey to a psoriatic arthritis (PsA) diagnosis often requires a lot of doctors’ visits — your primary care provider, dermatologists, nurse practitioners, and often a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. They’ll often play a leading role in your PsA care plan.
Like any doctor’s appointment, it’s important to prepare for your visit with a specialist. That way, you can get the most out of your visit and create an appropriate treatment plan.
The Bezzy PsA community understands the stress that can sometimes accompany doctors’ visits. It can be difficult to remember everything you want to tell your provider or what you can expect from a visit to a specialist.
Here are their tips to get the most out of your first rheumatology appointment.
Before you even walk in the door, it’s a good idea to know your top priorities for the appointment. What three questions do you absolutely need the answers to? It’s a good idea to start with those. But don’t shortchange yourself, either.
“Make a list of your questions/concerns and bring it with you. I keep a running list of random questions in the Notes app on my phone. That way, I always have it at hand during appointments. My rheumatologist and her PA are used to this. They now ask what’s on my list at every appointment.
“Ask questions. Ask ALL the questions. Yes, even if you think they’re ridiculous.
“And remember, you have the right to a second opinion. You don’t have to stick with a rude or uncaring doctor. You are your own best advocate!” — Southernlatina, Bezzy PsA Ambassador
After a while, the names of all the washes and medications you have tried may not be so easy to remember. You don’t want to waste time or money on things that haven’t worked or caused unpleasant side effects.
“My tip would be to keep a list of your medications, aspirin, creams, fish oil pills, whatever you are taking to feel better, and how often you take them. Keep an updated medical history. It’s very important.” — Diane Talbert, Bezzy PsA Guest Host and Ambassador
Understanding both your condition and the office procedures can help you feel ready for what is to come. A few online searches, asking others on Bezzy, or calling the doctor’s office can provide the basics.
“You should research at least a little bit in advance so you’re armed with some general joint-related/arthritis information before your appointment.
“You can expect to do blood work and/or other diagnostic testing at your first appointment. Diagnosis, tests, and medicines are a process, so there’s not necessarily a quick remedy. It may require lifestyle changes to diet, schedule, exercise, etc.” — Becker93
It’s inevitable that once you’ve left the appointment, you’ll think of additional questions. Knowing how to get the answers (or refills or whatever else you need) is key.
“Make sure you can get in touch with them when you need to and that they will respond back to you in a timely manner.” — Mizzy
Not every appointment will go according to your expectations. But don’t let that stop you from seeking care.
“It’s normal to be nervous. You might see a nurse practitioner before a rheumatologist — just stick with it. We need to meet the doctor halfway.” — unicorngirl
A little advanced preparation can go a long way to ensure you make the most out of your first visit with a rheumatologist. Finding the right care plan for you can take time, but being an informed patient can help your doctor make better treatment recommendations.
If you feel like you aren’t being heard by your doctor, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. You are your greatest advocate and know your body best — you should be an active participant in your care plan.
Visit our Diagnosis forum for more advice about navigating doctors’ appointments. As always, we’re here for you at Bezzy PsA.
Medically reviewed on February 13, 2023
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