What 15 Minutes at Your Doctor’s Office Gets You Elsewhere

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Some tasks are long and tedious, like going to the DMV. But some tasks aren’t allotted as much time as they need. According to a report from the Annals of Internal Medicine, the average amount of time doctors spend with their patients during an office visit is only 15 minutes. Given how important our health is, a quarter of an hour per visit seems woefully inadequate. Further, when we put off going to see our doctor because we’re uncomfortable or nervous about it, we end up requiring even more time when we finally do go because often by then our problem has become more severe and our doctor requires more information to figure it out and treat it.

It takes an hour on average to file taxes with a CPA. So why would we think only a quarter of that time spent with our doctor would be enough? Certainly, a doctor visit might not warrant several hours if it’s just for a routine check-up. But the time it takes to properly communicate a new symptom, to explain its aggravating and relieving factors along with any relevant personal medical history, not to mention the time it takes to understand and assess the treatment options our doctor offers us, requires far more than 15 minutes. It’s crazy to think we spend more time taking care of routine errands than we do our health. Think about this: an oil change takes an average of 30 minutes, which means a mechanic spends more time with our cars than we do with our doctors.

Even more surprising is the amount of time we’re willing to give to nonessential and unnecessary tasks. A Feng Shui consultant, for example, typically spends a minimum of two hours in a home. The average length of a chair massage, which only covers the back and neck, is 60 minutes. Consultations for landscape design or a new wardrobe are typically 90 minutes to two hours.

Good health relies on a good partnership between you and your doctor. The best way to ensure that you’re getting the medical care you need is by giving it the time and attention it deserves. Communicate with the scheduling and nursing staff that you want more time to go over your health concerns thoroughly and allow time for questions. Your body will thank you.

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