How to make the most of your Mayo Clinic appointment
Mayo Clinic appointments are intentionally unrushed. Still, you'll want to use your time wisely to take advantage of your doctor's expertise and experience.
Before your appointment
Carve out a morning or afternoon to get ready for your Mayo Clinic appointment.
Log in to the Patient Online Services portal. You can review your itinerary, see any instructions for your appointments and read messages from your care team.
Need help setting up your online portal? Just call the Patient Online Services help desk at 877-858-0398.
- Download the Mayo Clinic app. The Mayo Clinic app gives you mobile access to your appointment itinerary, health record and care team messages. You'll also find health news and practical advice, to help you live a healthier life.
- Collect medical records, if necessary. Ask your local doctor which medical records have already been sent to Mayo Clinic. Request any that are missing.
- Request a summary letter from your local doctor. A written overview of your health history can be a helpful resource for your Mayo Clinic care team.
- Know your family health history. Ask your loved ones about diseases and conditions that run in your family, if you don't have this information already. Write down any conditions along with who had them so that you'll be prepared if your doctor asks.
Do your research. If you're not well-versed in the conditions, symptoms, procedures or tests you expect to discuss at Mayo, consider searching reputable websites like MayoClinic.org for trusted information. You may feel more confident going into your appointment with this knowledge.
Helpful hint: When it comes to online sources of health information, stick to respected nonprofit institutions, professional organizations and government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the American Heart Association website.
Learn more about your care team. You may be more comfortable if you read a little about your doctors in advance or even see a picture.
Find a Mayo Clinic doctor.
- Ask for an interpreter, if you'll need one. Mayo Clinic provides interpreters free of charge. You can request an interpreter when you make your appointment.
- Decide what you want to get out of your visit. Write down anything you want to discuss during your appointment — like bothersome symptoms, medication questions or treatment options. If you feel nervous or overwhelmed, you may forget some of the things you want to ask. A list can help.
- Be ready to answer questions, too. To fully understand your health, your Mayo Clinic doctor will likely ask a number of questions. Be ready to answer questions like this:
- What is your main symptom or medical concern?
- How long have you had it?
- How often and when does it occur?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptom or condition — for example, activity, food, position, stress?
- What, if anything, appears to improve your symptom or condition — for example, medication, increasing activity?
- Is your main symptom or medical concern associated with other symptoms?
- Is there a family history of this health problem?
- Do you have any allergies?
- What do you hope to achieve with your Mayo Clinic appointment?
Understand the process. Mayo Clinic's appointment schedulers create your appointment itinerary based on your current referral or medical information. Appointments may be added or altered during your stay, or even be scheduled for a future time.
In some cases, you may find that you aren't being seen by a department or particular doctor that you'd hoped. But know that your Mayo Clinic team will deliver the best possible care for you. Appointment specialists are specially trained to match you with the provider or group that's the best fit for your diagnosis and your history.
At your appointment
Casual clothes and comfortable shoes can help put you at ease. And don't forget to pack a sweater, socks or blanket — even in the summer, since Mayo Clinic buildings are air-conditioned.
Be on time. Pay close attention to the "Arrival Time" shown on your patient itinerary. This time is calculated based on your specific appointment, and accounts for the amount of time you'll need for check-in and to complete any paperwork or other tasks before meeting with your doctor.
Helpful hint: Make sure to give yourself extra time for parking and walking to your appointment — especially if you're going to a new location for the first time.
- Keep important information close at hand. Carry your insurance card, a list of your current medications, and any other pertinent information. For more ideas on what to bring to your appointment, read this checklist.
- Plan for down time. Books, magazines, writing materials, knitting or other activities can help fill the time and calm any nerves.
- Make accessibility a priority. If you use glasses or hearing aids, make sure you have them with you. And tell your doctor if you have trouble hearing what he or she is saying.
- Ask questions. Your appointment with your doctor is a two-way street. Don't be afraid to participate in the conversation, and don't hold your questions until the end. Tell your care team what you hope to get out of each appointment at the beginning. Request clarification on any terms or instructions you don't understand. You might also want to ask:
- How can I learn more about my condition?
- What would you recommend if I were your daughter/son/mother/father?
- Why are you recommending this test?
- Are there any side effects to this test or treatment?
- When can I expect test results?
- Is there anything I haven't asked that I should have?
- What's the best way for me to get more information or ask questions after my appointment?
- Be honest. In order to fully understand your health and make a diagnosis, your doctor needs accurate information. Answer questions honestly, and be forthcoming about your current health and lifestyle.
- Don't let embarrassment stop you. Mayo Clinic doctors have seen and heard it all. Symptoms or questions that may feel embarrassing to you aren't embarrassing for your doctor.
- Write it down. You'll be getting a lot of information. Writing down what your doctor says will help you remember it later.
- Invite a friend or family member in with you. Having another set of ears along can be helpful. Consider asking a friend or family member to take notes for you so that you can focus on the conversation with your doctor. And, remember, it's OK to ask this person to leave during a physical exam or while sharing intimate health information.
Leave with a clear plan. Repeat back any instructions you've been given. Ask your doctor about your next steps. Will you need to schedule follow up appointments? Fill a prescription? Make lifestyle changes? Understand what's expected before you leave.
Helpful hint: A member of your Mayo Clinic care team can print a summary of your visit that includes instructions and next steps.
Your Mayo Clinic visit is the beginning of your journey to better health. Progress may take time, and you may have to adjust your plan as you move forward. But you've taken an important step in prioritizing your health and getting the answers you deserve.