Your first visit to Rheumatology Specialty Center is the start of an important relationship with you, your new doctor and care team. Most patients who come to us have long-term illnesses, so we understand how important it is for you to get expert, compassionate care that looks at you as a whole person.
Our goal is focused on your best possible outcome and function. The first step in this process is a diagnosis. We will begin that process on your first visit.
If you’re still unsure what a rheumatologist does, read “What is a Rheumatologist?” from the American College of Rheumatology.
If you’re ready to learn how to have the best first visit possible, continue reading below.
Before Your Appointment
- To help save time and get the care you need:
- Write out three lists to bring with you to share with your rheumatologist:
- Medications, vitamins and supplements you take and in what amounts/doses
- Symptoms of pain, inflammation, disability you’ve experienced over the past month (see sidebar)
- Questions to ask your doctor at your appointment
What to Bring to Your Rheumatology Appointment
To help your visit run as smoothly as possible, bring the following with you and tell the person you check in with at the front desk that you have this information:
- Health insurance card and photo ID (e.g., driver’s license)
- Copay and/or referral, if needed (consult your health insurance company if not sure)
- Completed New Patient form (or come early to fill one out in the office)
- Copies of records from any other doctor who has treated you for this condition
- Copies of any laboratory results, X-ray films and reports, MRI or other imaging films and hospital reports from the past year
- List of all medications you take, including vitamins, and the dosage amounts.
- A notebook and pen, in case you want to take notes.
- Your personal calendar (to set up a second visit)
During Your Visit with the Doctor
Good communication is key to getting the care you need. Two important ways you can help your doctor or nurse practitioner help you:
Answer questions as best as you can.
Your doctor will ask you many questions. Some may seem unrelated to your condition, but in order to best treat you, we try to get as complete a picture as possible about your overall health and your needs and desires for everyday living. Our goal is to treat the patient, not just the disease. We’re here to help you live your life as well as you possibly can.
Let the visit with your doctor be a conversation. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand, about your condition, about your treatment plan and more.
Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your medical history—past symptoms, illnesses, injuries, surgeries and more—and will perform a physical examination, focusing on your muscles, bones, and joints.
We will talk with you about what we see and think, what we want to do next and potential treatments that may help. You may need more blood tests done or images taken to help us make an accurate diagnosis and find the right treatment plan for you.
If you need blood tests or laboratory studies, or an x-ray or MRI, our nurses or front desk receptionists will be happy to help you find an appropriate facility. The doctor will then go over the test results with you during your next appointment or will contact you earlier if the results need immediate attention.
After Your First Visit
At the first visit, we usually schedule your second, follow-up visit. Between visits, please do the following:
- Keep track of changes in symptoms or new symptoms
- Write another list of questions for the doctor
- Get done any tests or imaging studies the doctor or nurse prescribes