I think this situation maps really well onto Alison’s general advice re interviewing for a new job, so if you’ve been following AAM for a while, you are more prepared than you might realize!
You and your new medical provider are “interviewing each other.”
You are looking for, but not necessarily expecting, red or yellow flags (ie, homophobia, racism, sexism, fatphobia, ableism, ageism, language fluency bias, neurocognitive differences) and should have a response planned out to keep yourself safe if weirdness ensues. Medical professionals are not immune to bias, and biases can deeply affect the care patients are given.
Like any job interview, you CAN AND SHOULD exit promptly if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The standard AAM lines apply nicely, ie: “Well, thank you so much for your time but I believe this is not a good match, so I’ll be leaving now!” Be at peace with The Awkward as you gather your things and leave! (This is harder to do in an Urgent Care situation or an ER situation, but if you are there for a non-urgent “maintenance check-up” then walking out is better that staying, in my experience.)
It will help if you bring written notes because one can get flustered in an interview or medical appointment if it’s a new situation and you feel stressed out. Ie, consider bringing several medical history lists—a list of past illnesses/injuries with dates, a list of current prescription medications/over the counter medications/supplements, a list of dates of past medical care ie vaccinations/bloodwork/gynecological exams/labs, a list of any symptoms you want to discuss etc.
Be aware that a provider will have an agenda– tasks and questions they need to get through during your appointment as part of their job description. What you might think of as “an appointment,” the medical system may be defining in a more specific way that you might not even know is a thing. Some practitioners are great at conveying this, but others may simply get increasingly frustrated by you (shades of a classic AAM Bad Manager lol). To prevent frustration and confusion, you might consider calling the office beforehand, and asking enough questions to get a feel for what *their* agenda will be for your specific appointment. It’s possible that asking about “the minor thing you want checked out” will make the visit NOT a “basic check-up” and your cost may change, and you may need a second appointment. Better to understand this weirdness beforehand. Also find out how long your appointment will be, because that can affect your game plan for achieving your goals.
Finally, unlike a job jnterview, be aware that you always have the option of bringing a friend! It is totally, completely normal and acceptable. If anyone hassles you, that’s a big red flag, and I myself would walk away. Your friend can just be moral support, or they can take notes for you and remind you of your question list if you are stressed and forget. You can just cheerfully introduce them: “This is my note-taker today!” and that should absolutely get a positive response, and a second chair in the exam room. (I think this maps well to the low key “this is the disability accomodation I need today, NBD, thanks” rhetorical stance that is an AAM thing I love.)
You’ve got this! The modern medical system can be challenging, but notice how well AAM “work strategies” can help you navigate through it successfully!