How Not to Wait at the Doctor's Office

You can minimize misunderstanding and get in and out of the waiting room on your schedule

Visiting the Doctor

How Not to Wait at the Doctor’s Office

Tick-tock, doc–timely ways to communicate with her office

-Michele Howe

empty waiting roomWe’ve all had the frustrating experience of counting the minutes as we sat and waited much longer than anticipated to see the doctor. The remedy for how not to wait at the doctor’s office? Mandi Randall, office manager at the Toledo Clinic, offers the following tips for all patients who struggle with losing their patience, starting with scheduling doctor’s appointments in the first place…

1. Be realistic

Think: Society in general tries to cram 30 hours of work into a 24-hour day. Patients often schedule appointments on top of other appointments and then become frustrated if something gets thrown off track.

Do: Always leave enough wiggle room for the unexpected wait between appointments. What to do with that occasional “extra” time? Remember to bring time fillers–read a book, write bills, or even better, compose a long overdue thank-you note to someone.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute

Think: People frequently wait until the last minute to call for an appointment or prescription refill and then become frustrated when they are not accommodated accordingly. From an office standpoint, extenuating circumstances are understood. However, it is very frustrating when a
patient calls last minute with a request that should have or could have been addressed sooner.

Do: Write on your daily/weekly calendar prompters to call far in advance for both new appointments and refills on prescriptions.

3. Be understanding of others and their situations

Think: It is difficult when someone is in pain or in a hurry to think of other people, but patients need to realize that doctors often run behind because they have had an emergency add-on or someone else needed a longer appointment. If patients can step back and understand that
somebody else was in greater need on that particular day, it would ease tensions all around.

Do: Don’t presume or assume; ask an office staffer for an update. When you better understand, it’s easier to wait with good grace.

4. Communicate with courtesy

Think: Common courtesy and honesty goes a long way (as in life in general!). Unfortunately, some patients think being difficult is what works most efficiently. While this may produce a one-time desired immediate result, it is not worth the long-term compromising of one’s relationships and reputation as a reasonable patient.

Do: Picture yourself in the professional’s place and offer them the same level of respect, goodwill, and graciousness you’d hope others would extend to you.

At day’s end, we can’t rest easy knowing we’ve traded caring communication for getting what we wanted in our time, our way, and at any cost. Commit to communicate carefully in these situations, and you may discover how not to wait at the doctor’s office.

Michele Howe is the author of Still Going It Alone: Mothering with Faith and Finesse. She is also on the Experts panel at

Some other health consumer stories you may be interested in: Five Rules Every Patient Must Know and  When You Lose Your Job–and Insurance

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0 thoughts on “How Not to Wait at the Doctor's Office

  1. I found another way to deal with this BS. I call the receptionist that day and tell her to ring me with and hour before my appointment to see if he’s on time. THey are always very accommodating.

  2. Doctors should have to cough up the co-pay every time they are more than 30 minutes late. IT’s just appalling that they make you wait as if you don’t have a life!

  3. Having just returned from waiting for my mother’s appointment at the doctors office, I appreciate these practical tips. I need to be realistic when I go in and make the best of the time — this helped me to get my perspective and simmer down!!!!

  4. Doctors all around the world need to ban together and come up with a better way to not make people sit on their as*** and waste our precious time waiting on them. Makes me ill—no pun intended!

  5. Doctors are the worst for holding you up on your lunch hour while you try and get to their appointments. Then they take forever making you late getting back to work! I try to avoid them at all costs!

  6. This article really should make a lot of people think. When visiting the doctor , we are not just stopping for a quick coke or something. This is our health our life. So , if you have to wait a little so you can see the person who is suppose to keep you healthy, remember your BLESSED.
    Maybe think of those in other parts of the world who are dying because they don’t have a common anti biotic. I found some of the comments appalling!If you want an instant medical puppet instead of the best medical doctors, try a drive through!!!
    It is usually the best doctors who are the busiest!

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