Dodging the Receptionist: Tips for Talking to Your Doctor

The Problem
Many doctor's offices are now set up so that the receptionist will try to screen calls to the doctor to determine which ones must be taken by the doctor and which ones can be taken by someone else such as the receptionist or the nurse. At times, the receptionist will insist on knowing what it is that you need to talk to the doctor about. Most women correctly feel that they should not have to discuss their private problems with the receptionist.

Strategies for Dodging the Receptionist
If the receptionist will not let you speak to the doctor right away, ask to speak to the nurse. Many times, the nurse will be able to give you the information that you need. When you speak to the nurse, ask for written information about your question. Sometimes they may even have videos or online resources for you to check out.

Another good strategy is to call first thing in the morning when the office opens. Most doctors have specific times set aside to return patients' phone calls. If you are having trouble getting ahold of your doctor, try to find out from the receptionist what time your doctor usually returns calls. Make sure to be available at that time. You can also tell the receptionist when you will be available to speak to the doctor, and then make sure that you are by the phone at that time. This is sort of like making a "phone appointment." Some doctors may even have an email address. If so, use it!

If you are making an appointment and you know that you will have several things to discuss with your doctor, ask the receptionist for an extended, or double, appointment. If the receptionist insists on knowing what it is that you need to talk to the doctor about, just tell her that it is confidential and you only want to speak to your doctor. Be firm. If the receptionist continues to pester you for more information, make sure to mention this to your doctor the next time you speak to him or her.

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