How to get the most out of your GP appointment

GP Appointment

At year’s end, a lot of people take the opportunity to check in with their GP. Perhaps to refill a PrEP script, plan for an annual screening or finally get that funky lump checked out. Seeing the doctor can seem a chore. I’ve got some tips to help you get the most out of your GP appointment.

Dr Rhys Young is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and has a special interest in LGBTQ+ individual & family health. He believes in the importance of good sexual health, STI screening & prevention, including PrEP prescribing.

Find the right GP for you

If you haven’t got a regular GP or you’re not happy with your current doctor, spend some time finding a new doc. This can be harder than scrolling through Grindr! Have a look through a practice website to make sure they are LGBTQ friendly. Do the doctors share their pronouns? Do they talk about PrEP or sexual health? Make sure your GP is aware of the health issues specific to you. Consider calling or emailing ahead for things like HIV S100 prescribing or gender affirmation.

Forgive us for being late

Doctors have a bad rep for running late and boy can it be frustrating! It happens for two main reasons. First, patients sometimes arrive late and even 5 minutes will flow through the rest of the day. Secondly, patients sometimes need extra time and we let the appointment run overtime. Sometimes frustrating but remember that one day it might be you that needs our extra time. Personally, I add a gap to my appointments. By doing this I don’t have to rush through patients and can spend more time providing help.

Know how long you’ve got

Most practices offer ‘standard’ or ‘long’ appointments. The time varies. Bulk billing practices tend to have shorter appointments in order to see more patients. I generally say that a standard appointment is for one issue. You’re better off choosing a long appointment for multiple or complex issues such as mental health. If you don’t want to rush something, choose a long appointment.

Also, don’t try and pack as much as you can into an appointment. When people bring a list of issues we have two options. Rush through the list and touch on each point but probably miss something along the way. Or choose the most important issue and give it the time and attention it deserves.

Don’t get ‘bill shock’

Make sure you know how much the consultation will cost. While some GPs bulk-bill, nowadays most charge above what Medicare pays – the gap fee. For example, if Medicare pays $39.10 for an appointment and your GP charges $39.10, then your consultation is entirely covered. But if your GP charges $70, then you will need to pay a gap fee of $30.90.

Get an interpreter if you need

If English is not your first language, don’t be afraid to ask for a translator. I find professional translators better than family or friends. GPs all have access to the ‘Translating and Interpreting Service’ to get a translator over the phone. If you let the reception team know ahead of time it can be organised for your GP appointment.

Finally: smile, but don’t show me your teeth

It always surprises me that people think that GPs know about teeth! If you have a toothache: go to your dentist! They are well equipped to prescribe painkillers or antibiotics and can sort those things out pronto. I’d much rather be dealing with gonorrhoea and syphilis than doing a root canal treatment!

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Dr Rhys Young

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