Join physician and author Ann Hester as we discuss patient empowerment for veterans. Through her book “Patient Empowerment 101,” Ann equips readers with the essential knowledge to navigate their healthcare journey at the VA and beyond. From crafting concise “elevator speeches” to communicate effectively with doctors to maintaining meticulous health records, Ann guides veterans in advocating for the care they deserve.
Ann’s advice for an “elevator speech” to provide your doctor*:
- Context: Describe what was going on when symptoms started.
- Character: Describe the type of pain (i.e., chest pain more like heartburn or an elephant sitting on your chest).
- Location: Describe in specific detail where the pain is felt (“upper right abdomen” is better than a general “stomach pain”).
- Severity: The 1-10 scale of your pain level. 1 = not painful 10 = the worst pain you’ve ever felt.
- Timing: Describe how long the problem lasts when it presents itself. Does it happen for a few minutes at a time and then go away, or is it persistent?
- Duration: Describe how long this problem has been bothering you.
- Associated Signs and Symptoms: Other things that occur with this problem could point to the problem.
- Modifying Factors: Describe things you do that improve the problem. For example, pain relievers may make a problem better temporarily. On the other hand, sitting for long periods may make the situation worse. All are relevant.
* – Hint: Copy the eight points above so you have them for future reference when you need them.
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