Get the best from your doctor and MS nurse

Your doctor or MS nurse should be your first port of call if you have any questions or concerns relating to your medication. They are there to support you and to help you make the most of your treatment.

Why a good relationship with your doctor and MS nurse matters

A good doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of good health care.  Research shows that patients who take an active role in their healthcare and work with their doctor not only feel more satisfied with the care they receive, but also have fewer concerns over their condition and a greater sense of control over their treatment. 

If you have a good relationship with your doctor, you are more likely to trust them. This means you’ll be more honest and open about how you are feeling, and have the confidence to ask the questions you really want to ask. 

You will also be more relaxed, which means you will be less anxious and in a better frame of mind to take in new information and to understand what it all means.

How you can make a difference

“There are a few things you can do to establish a good doctor-patient relationship, and to help your doctor help you,” says Health Psychology Specialist Clare Moloney. 

  • Be informed about your condition and treatment, so you can ask relevant questions and better understand the answers. If you aren’t sure of something, then ask for more information.
  • Prepare well for appointments. This may help you to raise the most important things first to ensure you have time to cover them.  
  • Be open and honest – your doctor and MS nurse can only help you if they have the full picture. Don’t forget to report any side effects you may be experiencing so your doctor is up to date with how you’re feeling.
  • Monitor your condition and treatment together with your doctor and MS nurse. This can help your doctor identify any problems should they arise and to treat them as early as possible.
  • Take your medication as prescribed – even the best doctor-patient relationship in the world won’t help if you don’t follow their advice!

Believe in yourself

“Having the confidence to ask questions or to ask for information to be repeated can sometimes be difficult, but it’s important to remember that your doctor and MS nurse are on your side,” says Clare.

“Your doctor and MS nurse want what’s best for you and your health, so if you have any queries or questions, they won’t mind if you speak up,” she says. “Try some relaxation exercises ahead of your appointment, so your mind is clear, or take a friend along for moral support.

“Remember, too, that when it comes to discussing topics you may find uncomfortable, like contraception and sex, doctors and nurses have heard it all before.”

Techniques to help you talk to your doctor and MS nurse

If you’re having trouble finding the confidence to talk to your doctor or MS nurse, these tips may help:

  • Make notes for yourself ahead of the appointment – write down any questions you have, including starter sentences to prompt you (e.g. “I was wanting to ask you why…”; “Do you mind explaining to me again why it is that…”)  
  • Try role-play with a friend or family member before the appointment, so you can practice what it is you want to say
  • Take along any written notes – like those in your diary – so you can share them with your doctor or MS nurse; it may help make it easier to explain 
  • Don’t be frightened to question a decision taken by your doctor – just be clear and polite, rather than confrontational. Try something like: “Doctor, I know what you said about X, but I was just wondering if …”