How to talk to your doctor in English

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Do you feel overwhelmed when going to a doctor?

Do you have kids who translate for you when you go to the doctor’s or you use a translator? It may feel overwhelming when you can’t speak for your kids or for yourself. I can relate to this situation with my own family. I used to translate for my mom when going to places where we needed to speak to someone. It was very difficult for my mom, but I remember telling her she should try to practice to get over the fear. After a few years and several times practicing, her English showed great improvement.

In the following dialogue, I will demonstrate a conversation between a doctor and a patient. It also includes the dialogue you would have with the appointment setter on the phone. Please be aware that I am not qualified to provide medical advice. This is just an example.

Dialogue between a doctor and patient

Making a doctor’s appointment on the phone before arriving to the clinic:

  • Patient: Hello, I would like to make an appointment, please? 
  • Receptionist: sure, what is going on?
  • Patient: my son is not feeling well, has a headache, diarrhea, and vomiting. He also has a fever.
  • ReceptionistOK, do you have your insurance information?
  • Patient: yes, I have the insurance information
  • ReceptionistOK, what’s the insurance provider number
  • Patient: yes, it is…..
  • Receptionist: What is your son’s name and date of birth?
  • Patient:  his name is David Ramos and his date of birth is 3/27/2005
  • Receptionist: great, do you prefer mornings or afternoons?
  • Patient: I prefer mornings
  • ReceptionistOK, I have Wednesday at 9 am, is that OK? 
  • Patient: yes, thank you so much!
  • Receptionist: we will see you then!

Arriving at the doctor office:

  • Receptionist: Hello, how can I help you?
  • Patient: I have an appointment for my son at 9 am
  • ReceptionistOK, please fill out these forms and bring them back when you are ready
    • these forms include basic information including medical history
  • Patient: I have finished thank you
  • Receptionist: thank you, we will call you when the doctor is ready for you
  • Patient: great, thank you

The nurse or doctor calls you in:

  • Doctor/nurseDavid?
  • PatientYes, right here.
  • Doctor/nursehello David, what’s going on?
  • PatientHi, David has been experiencing some headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and a little bit of a fever
  • Doctor/nursewe will take a look at his vitals and see what’s going on
  • Doctor/nurse: alright David, please take your shoes off and step on the scale
  • Doctor/nurse: follow me to room A and we will be right with you in just a moment 
    • vitals include blood pressure, ears/nose/mouth/eyes, breathing, and heart rate
  • Doctor/nurse: mom, is there something different in his diet? 
  • Patient: we had some salmon and he has been feeling bad ever since 
  • Doctor/nurse: was this his first time eating salmon?
  • Patientyes, that was his first time and he didn’t take it very well
  • Doctor/nurse: it sounds like David has food poisoning or a stomach bug
  • Patient: that explains a lot 
    • food poisoning/stomach bug: maybe allergic to a certain food or the salmon wasn’t cooked right

The doctor will now give instructions

  • Doctor/nurse:Do you have any more questions about your son?
  • Patient:is there something I can give him to make him better? he has been throwing up a lot 
  • Doctor/nurse:He should stay hydrated and he has a fever give him some Tylenol and he should be fine in a few days

As you can see, it is a lengthy conversation but it is a great way to practice reading and understanding a conversation between a doctor and a patient. Remember to do your best to fend for yourself but if it is too advanced for you, always ask for help translated as needed. I hope you were able to get more practice and your vocabulary has expanded.

Check out this similar post for more medical phrases and vocabulary HERE.

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