The old saying “a little sugar goes a long way” couldn’t be more true than when trying to schedule an appointment at your doctor’s office. The scheduled start time and overall length of your appointment does impact the efficiency and outcome of the appointment. Most individual offices determine their daily schedules using a general template.
The patient’s symptoms and medical history factor into determining how soon you will get in, as well as how much time to allow with the doctor. Other factors such as allowing time for additional testing, office and exam room capacity, time constraints, insurance rules, office protocols, and having enough nurses working are only some of many factors medical office uses to set up its schedule.
But if you have the right “attitude and gratitude” scheduling those appointments can become a pleasant experience for all involved. While this post is written in a fun and sarcastic tone, I hope that it will amuse as well as educate readers. I was a medical secretary for many years, and I believe that sharing this information with our patients leads to their overall satisfaction and understanding being increased dramatically.
1. Please call first thing in the morning. That is when we have to most openings and you should have no problem getting the provider or time frame that you want.
2. If we are full and I like you or you are nice and polite, 99 percent of the time I can get you in as a double booking if you really are ill.
3. Do not call me at three in the afternoon wanting to get in today when we close at five. I just want to laugh when I get those calls. If you must call late needing in the same day you need to know ahead of time that your chances are slim.
4. Always have your insurance card and photo ID with you. Even though your info may be the same I am required to verify it and I dislike it as much as you do.
5. It is NOT my fault when the doctor or NP is running late. Do not act like it is. When I am aware that they are running behind, I will tell you as you check-in. However, I usually am not aware of when this happens. Do not sit in the waiting room and give me dirty looks. It won’t help.
6. Do not walk in wanting to be seen unless it clearly states that we are a walk-in clinic. If you do walk in and I happen to have an opening, keep in mind that this was a one time case of perfect timing.
7. The Nurse Practitioner is equally as capable of taking care of you as the doctor is. If a doctor is needed the NP will consult one and have them see you along with them. They usually have a more flexible schedule too, since the doctor’s have to do rounds outside of the office, while the NP can be there all week.
8. Do not talk on your cell phone while I am checking you in. I have things I must tell you and it is just plain rude! Personally, I will tell you to hang up and then I will be ready to help you.
9. Your insurance co-pay is not determined by the office. That is part of the contract you have with your insurance and you always need to have it with you and be ready to give it to me. This applies to follow-up appointments too.
10. Politeness goes a long way. As a secretary who has talked to hundreds of people every day for over eight years, I know that if you are polite and respectful to me I will reciprocate and do everything I can to help you. If you are rude and inconsiderate, I will not feel the need to bend over backwards and go above and beyond to help you.