English for Medical Purposes - Making a Doctor's Appointment

Doctor and nurse using tablet.

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Read the following dialogue with a partner to learn important vocabulary used for making doctor's appointments. Practice this dialogue with a friend to help you feel confident when you next make an appointment in English. Check your understanding with the quiz and review vocabulary. 

Role Play: Making a Doctor's Appointment

Doctor's Assistant: Good morning, Doctor Jensen's office. How may I help you?


Patient: Hello, I'd like to make an appointment to see Doctor Jensen, please.

Doctor's Assistant: Have you been in to see Doctor Jensen before?
Patient: Yes, I have. I had a physical last year.

Doctor's Assistant: Fine, what is your name?
Patient: Maria Sanchez.

Doctor's Assistant: Thank you, Ms. Sanchez, let me pull up your file... Okay, I've located your information. What's the reason for your making an appointment?
Patient: I haven't been feeling very well lately.

Doctor's Assistant: Do you need urgent care?
Patient: No, not necessarily, but I'd like to see the doctor soon.

Doctor's Assistant:  Of course, how about next Monday? There's a slot available at 10 in the morning.
Patient: I'm afraid I'm working at 10. Is there anything available after three?

Doctor's Assistant: Let me see. Not on Monday, but we have a three o'clock opening next Wednesday. Would you like to come in then?
Patient: Yes, next Wednesday at three would be great.

Doctor's Assistant:  All right, I'll pencil you in for three o'clock next Wednesday.
Patient: Thank you for your help.

Doctor's Assistant: You're welcome. We'll see you next week. Goodbye.
Patient: Goodbye.

Key Making an Appointment Phrases

  • Make an appointment: schedule a time to see the doctor
  • Have you been in before?: used to ask if the patient has seen the doctor before
  • Physical (examination: yearly check-up to see if everything is okay.
  • Pull up a file: find a patient's information
  • Not feeling very well: feel ill or sick
  • Urgent care: similar to an emergency room, but for everyday problems
  • A slot: an available time to make an appointment
  • Is there anything open?: used to check if there is an available time for an appointment
  • Pencil someone in: to schedule an appointment

True or False?

Decide whether the following statements are true or false: 

  1. Ms. Sanchez has never seen Doctor Jensen.
  2. Ms. Sanchez had a physical examination with Doctor Jensen last year.
  3. The doctor's assistant already has the file open.
  4. Ms. Sanchez is feeling fine these days.
  5. Ms. Sanchez needs urgent care.
  6. She can't come in for a morning appointment. 
  7. Ms. Sanchez schedules an appointment for next week.

Answers: 

  1. False
  2. True
  3. False
  4. False
  5. False
  6. True
  7. True

Preparing for your Appointment

Once you've made an appointment you'll need to make sure you're prepared for your doctor's visit. Here is a short overview of what you'll need in the United States.

Insurance / Medicaid / Medicare Card

In the US doctor's have medical billing specialists whose job it is to bill the correct insurance provider. There are many insurance providers in the US, so it's essential to bring your insurance card.

If you are over 65, you probably will need your Medicare card.

Cash, Check or Credit/Debit Card to Pay for Co-payment

Many insurance companies require a co-payment which represents a small portion of the total bill. Co-payments can be as little as $5 for some medicines, and as much as 20 percent or more of larger bills. Make sure to check with your insurance provider for much information on co-payments in your individual insurance plan as these vary widely. Bring some form of payment to your appointment to take care of your co-pay.

Medication List

It's important for your doctor to know which medications you take. Bring a list of all medications that you currently take.

Key Vocabulary

  • Medical billing specialist: (noun) a person who processes charges to insurance companies
  • Insurance provider: (noun) company that insurances people for their health care needs
  • Medicare: (noun) a form of insurance in the US for people over 65
  • Co-payment / co-pay: (noun) partial payment of your medical bill
  • Medication: (noun) medicine

True or False?

  1. Co-payments are payments made by the insurance company to the doctor to pay for your medical appointments.
  2. Medical billing specialists will help you deal with insurance companies.
  3. Everyone in the US can take advantage of Medicare.
  4. It's a good idea to bring a list of your medications to a doctor's appointment.

Answers:

  1. False - patients are responsible for co-payments.
  2. True - medical billing specialists specialize in working with insurance companies.
  3. False - Medicare is national insurance for those over 65.
  4. True - it's important for your doctor to know which medications you are taking. 

If you need English for medical purposes you should know about troubling symptoms and joint pain, as well as pain that comes and goes. If you work in a pharmacy, it's a good idea to practice talking about prescriptions. All medical staff might be faced with a patient who is feeling queasy and how to help a patient.