Communicating with Doctors and Nurses in English at the Doctor’s Office

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Learn about communication with doctors and nurses in English at the Doctor’s Office. I teach you how to describe your pain, talking about your symptoms and ask for a second opinion. When talking to medical practitioners this Doctor's Office lesson will come in handy!

How to Communicate With Doctors and Nurses 

First of all if you are watching this lesson right now it might mean that you’re a bit under the weather and not feeling like your usual self. Know that I’m wishing you a speedy recovery to get well soon! In English we use the expression “this too shall pass” as a reminder that the difficult and uncomfortable moments in life are temporary even if they don’t feel that way at the moment. 

Communicating with doctors and nurses can be very challenging. This is particularly true if we’re in such pain that we can barely express ourselves. And what can pose an extra challenge is if English is your second or third language and they never went over a visit to the doctor’s office in your English class!

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered because today I’m teaching you how to communicate to doctors and nurses in a way that is stress free so that you can focus on the real reasons you’re at the doctor’s office in the first place.

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(1) Using a Scale from One to Ten

One of the best ways to describe how you’re feeling is if you use a scale. This is very helpful for the doctor to understand your pain levels and general feeling of ease or dis ease. So on a scale from one to ten, with one being “ugh feeling the absolute worst” and ten being “I feel amazing I’m at 100%” describe where you fall at the moment. You can say “on a scale from one to ten, I’m at an 8.” Or you might say “I’m at a 0 right now, which is why I came in today.” 

(2) Describing Your Symptoms

Next it would be wise to describe your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them.

Here’s an example: “My throat has been raw and itchy since Sunday and I’ve had a runny nose and nasal congestion for the last three days. I’ve been sneezing since Monday and the last two days I've been experiencing elevated temperatures and fever. It feels like my symptoms are getting worse.” Try to be as specific with the progression of the symptoms and how long you’ve been feeling them. It would be a good idea to jot down how you’re feeling the moment a new symptom surfaces. Just try not to read too much into all the aches and pains. Track your symptoms and how they progress and then bring those data points to the doctor so they can do the analysis. You can use present perfect continuous for the symptoms that are still present, so have/has + been + the -ing form of the verb because you’re still experiencing those symptoms. 

(3) Getting a Second Opinion

For things like a cold or a stomach bug you probably won’t need this. However, if it’s more complicated, then it might warrant a second opinion, meaning another doctor or medical professional could weigh in on the situation. You could say that you will be getting a second opinion if they nudge you in the direction of surgery or something invasive, which you are not looking to do at the moment if it’s not necessary. Or if they don’t mention any type of treatment plan, then you might just ask the doc for a referral to get a second opinion. 

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As you are doing steps one through three, remember to be as clear as possible, speak slowly to articulate each word and sentence and take time to express yourself. If you need to, have notes handy either on a piece of paper or on your phone.

Practice these strategies, make them your own, and you’ll notice them to become more automatic the more practice you have.

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In summary, you’re going to describe the pain on a scale from one to ten, then you’ll describe your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them -- and be sure to use the 'Present perfect continuous for the still persistent symptoms. Most importantly, get plenty of rest, proper nutrition, enough hydration and get well soon!

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Alright Advanced English learners, thanks for joining me in this lesson. Have you communicated in English with doctors and nurses before? How did that experience go for you? Feel free to share that with us in the comments below.

See you in the next one where we’ll continue advancing your English together! Until then, keep up the awesome work.