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Sometimes, it might seem like you and your doctor come from different planets. Your doctor may speak in big medical terms or run through facts too quickly for you to keep up. Even if you do follow along, you might feel that they just don’t “get” where you’re coming from—like how you live or what you do day-to-day.

While it can be frustrating to feel misunderstood, here’s a good reason to nurture the partnership you have with your doctor: Research suggests that good doctor-patient relationships can help people better manage their diabetes.  Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help your doctor see your perspective—and vice versa, too.

So if you feel like you’ve lost your voice in your own health care, it’s time to find it. Try these tips to get started:

Find a Doctor You Can Trust

You may have plenty of options when looking for new doctors, and it might seem overwhelming to just pick one out of the whole bunch. But if you take it step-by-step, it may not be so difficult after all:

  • Consider what traits you’d like in a doctor, such as someone who is close to your home or office or who has hours that match up with your needs.
  • Make a list of potential matches based off of recommendations from trusted family, friends, and other members of your health care team.
  • Research doctors through secondary sources online that can be filtered by your insurance plan, location, and other needs (like extended hours or being part of a specific hospital). 
  • Choose two or three of them to call and speak with the office staff about policies and payment terms.
  • Pick one to schedule an initial visit to get to know the doctor.

During that first meeting—which you might have to pay for—think hard about whether the doctor is a fit. Did they listen to what you had to say and take interest in your concerns? Did they ask if you had any questions? Did they take their time or make you feel rushed? Did you feel comfortable?

Open Up About Your Challenges 

Even if your doctor already has your health records, you’ll want to fill in the gaps with extra context about your life. Walk them through your day and discuss any challenges you might face—like whether you have trouble affording medications, finding healthy foods, quitting smoking, or making time for exercise.

Knowing these details can help your doctor customize health advice for your situation, no matter what it is. But if you feel like you still can’t follow their advice—or if it’s not practical for you—tell them! They may be able to offer alternative options or plans that work better for you.

Ask Anything, Any Time 

There’s no such thing as a dumb question, so don’t be afraid to talk about your concerns. If you’ve found the right doctor, they’ll want you to get your questions off your chest at every visit. Sometimes, you may not understand their answer, and that’s okay! Ask them to explain it in another way, or to give an example so you can follow along.

A few questions patients with type 2 diabetes may ask include, but aren’t limited to:

  • What are my goals regarding blood sugar or A1C level?
  • How can I change my lifestyle and eating habits in a way that will be healthy?
  • How often should I see the doctor to best manage my diabetes?

If you have other things you’d like to ask, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers a click-and-print question builder to take with you to your next appointment. Get started here.

Be Your Own Health Advocate

Doctors are there to help your health, not hurt your pride. If you ever feel like the two of you just aren’t speaking the same language, that’s okay—it happens! They may not know the whole story, so speak up and tell them what they need to know about you and your health history.

After all, check-ups are your chance to ask questions, learn information, and get screenings that can help your well-being. But keep in mind: Your doctor is a health partner, so use these tips to try and make the most out of your relationship.

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