How to talk to your doctor in English

Doctor-talk-in-English

Do you feel overwhelmed when going to a doctor?

Do you have kids who translate for you when you go to the doctor’s or you use a translator? It may feel overwhelming when you can’t speak for your kids or for yourself. I can relate to this situation with my own family. I used to translate for my mom when going to places where we needed to speak to someone. It was very difficult for my mom, but I remember telling her she should try to practice to get over the fear. After a few years and several times practicing, her English showed great improvement.

In the following dialogue, I will demonstrate a conversation between a doctor and a patient. It also includes the dialogue you would have with the appointment setter on the phone. Please be aware that I am not qualified to provide medical advice. This is just an example.

Dialogue between a doctor and patient

Making a doctor’s appointment on the phone before arriving to the clinic:

  • Patient: Hello, I would like to make an appointment, please? 
  • Receptionist: sure, what is going on?
  • Patient: my son is not feeling well, has a headache, diarrhea, and vomiting. He also has a fever.
  • ReceptionistOK, do you have your insurance information?
  • Patient: yes, I have the insurance information
  • ReceptionistOK, what’s the insurance provider number
  • Patient: yes, it is…..
  • Receptionist: What is your son’s name and date of birth?
  • Patient:  his name is David Ramos and his date of birth is 3/27/2005
  • Receptionist: great, do you prefer mornings or afternoons?
  • Patient: I prefer mornings
  • ReceptionistOK, I have Wednesday at 9 am, is that OK? 
  • Patient: yes, thank you so much!
  • Receptionist: we will see you then!

Arriving at the doctor office:

  • Receptionist: Hello, how can I help you?
  • Patient: I have an appointment for my son at 9 am
  • ReceptionistOK, please fill out these forms and bring them back when you are ready
    • these forms include basic information including medical history
  • Patient: I have finished thank you
  • Receptionist: thank you, we will call you when the doctor is ready for you
  • Patient: great, thank you

The nurse or doctor calls you in:

  • Doctor/nurseDavid?
  • PatientYes, right here.
  • Doctor/nursehello David, what’s going on?
  • PatientHi, David has been experiencing some headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and a little bit of a fever
  • Doctor/nursewe will take a look at his vitals and see what’s going on
  • Doctor/nurse: alright David, please take your shoes off and step on the scale
  • Doctor/nurse: follow me to room A and we will be right with you in just a moment 
    • vitals include blood pressure, ears/nose/mouth/eyes, breathing, and heart rate
  • Doctor/nurse: mom, is there something different in his diet? 
  • Patient: we had some salmon and he has been feeling bad ever since 
  • Doctor/nurse: was this his first time eating salmon?
  • Patientyes, that was his first time and he didn’t take it very well
  • Doctor/nurse: it sounds like David has food poisoning or a stomach bug
  • Patient: that explains a lot 
    • food poisoning/stomach bug: maybe allergic to a certain food or the salmon wasn’t cooked right

The doctor will now give instructions

  • Doctor/nurse:Do you have any more questions about your son?
  • Patient:is there something I can give him to make him better? he has been throwing up a lot 
  • Doctor/nurse:He should stay hydrated and he has a fever give him some Tylenol and he should be fine in a few days

As you can see, it is a lengthy conversation but it is a great way to practice reading and understanding a conversation between a doctor and a patient. Remember to do your best to fend for yourself but if it is too advanced for you, always ask for help translated as needed. I hope you were able to get more practice and your vocabulary has expanded.

Check out this similar post for more medical phrases and vocabulary HERE.

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Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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