February 28, 2013 | in Nanny
When you or your child is suffering from an illness, your first instinct is usually to visit the doctor. However, a quick conversation with the receptionist can reveal that waiting times are days or even weeks long, leaving you or your sick child to fend for yourselves until the doctor’s packed schedule eases enough to admit you. What you may not realize, however, is that there are a few tactics for breaking through the long wait times and getting an appointment much more quickly.
- Be Courteous – It isn’t always easy to keep a handle on your temper when you’re not feeling well or dealing with a sick child and you’re struggling to get a doctor’s appointment, but it’s important to remember how much farther a calm, courteous disposition will take you. Shouting at the receptionist or resorting to threats will only make her less inclined to help you, so try to keep your temper in check and treat everyone you encounter with courtesy.
- Be Honest – The temptation to grossly exaggerate your symptoms in order to get preferential treatment can be strong, but it can also backfire on you in a nasty way. Leading the administrative workers or nurses to believe that you’re more seriously ill than you actually are in order to angle for an earlier appointment might work one time, but it will probably cause you a truckload of problems in the future.
- Give the Receptionist an Accurate Description of Your Symptoms – When the receptionist asks you to describe your symptoms, remember that he’s required to maintain confidentiality as part of his professional code of ethics. You may not want to discuss an embarrassing or particularly messy symptom with him, but being honest and accurately describing your symptoms can give him more of a sense of urgency than vague mumbles about not feeling well. Remember, the receptionist’s job is to book appointments and to ensure that those patients in more immediate need of care are scheduled accordingly. When you won’t discuss what’s ailing you, you’re more likely to get shuffled to the back of the line.
- Inquire About Waiting Lists – Operating a medical practice comes with high overhead costs, which is why so many doctors schedule their days so tightly. A cancellation means lost revenue, something that business-minded doctors don’t want to encounter. As a result, the receptionists are usually trained to fill cancellations whenever possible. You may be able to talk the receptionist into putting you on a waiting list for an earlier appointment, if you’re polite and honest about your situation.
- Let the Receptionist Know that Your Doctor Requested a Return Visit – Trying to schedule a follow-up appointment after you’ve left the office isn’t easy. However, if your doctor told you that you should return if a symptom doesn’t abate, gets worse or new symptoms appear, it’s important to share that information with the receptionist. Letting her know that you’re making an appointment at the request of your physician can help to fast-track the process.
- Ask About Associates’ Availability – Regardless of how much you love your primary care doctor, there may be times when your need for treatment trumps your sense of loyalty. Asking the receptionist about the availability of associates within the practice can help you get an earlier appointment, especially when an associate is newer and hasn’t yet built up a large patient base.
- Email Your Doctor Directly – It’s not a good idea to go over the nurses’ and receptionists’ heads for a case of the sniffles, but you also can’t expect your doctor to know what’s going on when you can’t get through the barrier of the front desk. Emailing your doctor with a description of your symptoms and the struggle you’re having in terms of securing an appointment can get you moved to the top of the list in a hurry.
- Make Technology Work for You – There are a selection of websites and online applications that are designed to speed up the process of getting a doctor’s appointment, so it may be a smart move to consider them when you’re having trouble scheduling an appointment on your own.
- Consider an Urgent Care Facility – When you’re not able to see your primary care doctor, there are no slots open with associates in her practice and you simply can’t wait a week for care, it may be in your best interest to begin exploring urgent care options in your area. These clinics are designed to accommodate the needs of walk-in patients and may be able to fit you in for a next-day or even same-day appointment.
In some cases, it’s smarter to settle for a next-day appointment than it is to spend an entire morning fighting for a same-day visit. By the end of the day, you’ll be more exhausted and the doctor will be anxious to end her work day. An illness that can’t wait another day for treatment may be grounds for more immediate, emergency-style care than a traditional office visit to your general practitioner, anyway.
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