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      Kathleen Sheffer

      As a follow-up to my post about preparing for an appointment, I wanted to share some of my go-to questions for doctors. Of course you’ll have your own questions relevant to your case, but these broad questions will work for most appointments.

      Are you excited about any clinical trials? What’s in the pipeline?

      I always want to be seeing doctors who are involved in the latest research. If a new medication comes out, I want to know about it. This is sort of a test question for my physician to make sure they’re staying up-to-date. But more than that, this question is a way to inject some hope into the conversation. There are lots of drug trials happening and plenty of advancements being made. PH is not a hopeless disease.

      What testing do I need to complete before our next appointment?

      Appointments can be long and stressful (and waiting for the appointment to begin equally so). Make sure before you leave that you are clear on what tests your doctor wants you to have done. Try to schedule them as you check out of the office, but keep a list handy so you can plan the months ahead.


      My therapist taught me the power of asking, “Why?” So often we as patients accept what our doctor prescribes without question. We don’t want to appear non-compliant, and we trust that they know best. But knowing why your doctor wants you to take a medication every eight hours or why they want you to get your blood checked every month is important. This helps you take charge of your own healthcare. No one wants to take pills or get blood drawn, but we all want to optimize our chance of success, and if we know why our doctors are asking us to do such things, we are more likely to do them.

      Side note: You can keep asking “Why?” again and again. My doctor is famous for short responses and a swift exit. My mom once asked if there was a reason he was reducing an immunosuppressant medication. His answer: “There’s always a reason.” She pressed him for the reason: “White count.” Keep asking until you understand.

      What questions do you always ask your doctor?

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