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Working with doctors and nurses

Girl talking on the phone.

Answering questions, filling out papers, getting poked and prodded — going to the doctor may stress you out! If it does, remember that you’ll get used to working with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Check out our info on:

Making an appointment arrow. top

As you get more involved in your own health care, you may want or need to make your own appointments. You may feel a little nervous, but calling will be easier if you have a list of questions to ask, such as:

  • How much will my visit cost?
  • If I have insurance, do you work with my plan?
  • What times is the doctor available?
  • Can I see the same doctor each time?
  • Do I have to bring anything with me when I come?
  • What will happen during the visit?
  • If I want, can the visit be kept confidential?
  • Is it okay if someone comes with me to the exam?
  • If I don’t have much money, do you have a “sliding scale” based on my ability to pay?

What questions will the doctor or nurse ask? arrow. top

It’s a good idea to know what questions you may be asked. That way, you can think about the answers and make sure to take any necessary info with you to your appointment.

You may be asked about:

  • What kind of help you might want or need
  • Allergies to medicines
  • Any medicines you are taking
  • Concerns you have about your general health, including your emotional health
  • If you or your family has a history of certain medical problems
  • Your period, such as how long it normally lasts, how old you were when you first got it, and the first day of your last period
  • Whether you have ever had sex
  • If you’ve ever been forced to have sex
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs
  • How things are going at home and at school

It is important to be honest so that the doctor or other health care provider has all the right information about your health and body.

Tips for teaming with your doctor or nurse arrow. top

You may feel a little nervous when talking with a health care professional like a doctor. After all, you need this person’s help. But remember — it’s the doctor’s job to help you! Here are some suggestions that can make working with your doctor easier:

  • Write down any questions in advance. It’s hard to remember everything, especially when you may be feeling a little nervous. And ask what to do if more questions come up after the appointment.
  • Bring a family member or trusted friend with you. That person can take notes, offer support, and help you remember information.
  • Be honest. Even if you’re embarrassed, make sure to tell the doctor everything he or she may need to know in order to help you. Your doctor probably has seen or heard it all before!
  • If the doctor gives you medication, make sure you know exactly how to take it and for how long. Also ask about any possible side effects and what to do if you have a problem.

You want to feel like you can trust and work well with your doctor or nurse. If you don’t, then maybe you need to think about finding someone else. Learn more about changing doctors.

What if I don’t want my parents to know? arrow. top

It’s a good idea to get your parents’ or guardians’ support around any health concerns even if it’s hard, but sometimes that may just not feel possible. If so, here are some key points:

  • Keep in mind that often your doctor’s visit can be kept confidential. That means anything you say will be secret, even if you’re getting birth control or STD testing. It’s best to ask about the doctor’s policy before you begin.
  • Some states have laws to make sure visits for STDs are confidential.
  • Even if your doctor keeps your visit confidential, your parents may get a bill or insurance papers that list the services you got. Ask your doctor’s office about that. They may have ways to stop some services from being listed.
  • If your doctor’s office can’t offer confidentiality, ask where you can go to get confidential care.
  • If you go to a family planning clinic for services like birth control counseling, your privacy definitely will be protected. Plus, the visit likely will cost less or be free. Often, you can find a family planning clinic pretty easily.

Paying for care arrow. top

Paying for doctor visits and other health care causes confusion and worry in some families. Understanding a few key points will help.

Your family may already have private health insurance.

  • You or your family will need to get information from the insurance company. This includes:
    • What medical services it pays for
    • How it pays
    • How much it pays
  • In the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance companies to pay for the whole cost of certain services, including some vaccines, STD tests, and types of birth control.

If your family doesn’t have health insurance (or isn't happy with what it has), the ACA is making it easier to get health insurance. Go to www.healthcare.gov to learn more.

If your family can't afford insurance, you may be able to get Medicaid. This is basically insurance from the government for people with low incomes. You and your family can learn more about Medicaid.

If your family earns too much money to get Medicaid, they may be able to get CHIP for you. CHIP, or Children’s Health Insurance Program, is low-cost health insurance for kids. Click to learn more about CHIP.

You may be able to get free or lower-cost care at certain places in your community. These include community health clinics, free clinics, public hospitals, school-based health centers, and public housing primary care centers. You can search online for centers.

If you have certain disabilities, you may be able to get Medicare. This is another kind of insurance from the government. You can get more information online.

Paying for care can be confusing and stressful. Definitely try to work with a trusted adult on this. Take notes, and keep all bills, insurance information, and important papers together in case you need them again.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 30, 2014

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