What happens during a visit to the GP?

In brief

In brief

  • To prepare yourself, think about your problem and what you want to ask about it.
  • You can bring someone to the appointment with you.
  • Tell the GP about your symptoms and what you feel.
  • This is safe. Your GP may not tell others about what you discuss together.
  • You can also express what you expect of your GP.
  • You will decide together what is best for you.
Preparing yourself

Preparing for a consultation with your GP

You can prepare for your appointment with the GP:

  • Think about your problem and what you want to ask about it. You can write down your questions: this way you won’t forget anything.
  • You can look at Thuisarts.nl (in Dutch) beforehand to see if you can find anything about your symptoms or questions.

Perhaps you have already written down your questions. Bring that list of questions with you. You can write down the answers so that you can read them again at home.

Are you taking medication you received from your doctor or pharmacy, or have you bought medication yourself? Write all of this down and bring this list with you.

Good to know

You can also bring someone to the appointment with you. You will remember more together.

Do you have a lot to talk about or many questions for your GP? Then make a longer appointment (20 or 30 minutes).

How does it go

How does the conversation with the GP go?

  • Tell the GP about your symptoms and what you feel. It is important that the GP understands your symptoms properly.
  • Are you worried or are you afraid of something? Tell your GP. The GP will try to help you with this as much as possible.
  • You might feel embarrassed or afraid to discuss certain symptoms, such as haemorrhoids or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Or sexual problems, feeling down or violence. Remember that your GP is used to talking about things like this. You aren’t the first person to talk about it. Often just talking about it can make you feel more comfortable.
  • It is safe. All doctors in the Netherlands have a professional duty of confidentiality. This means that your doctor may not tell others about what you discuss together.
  • You can also express what you expect of your GP.
  • Also explain what you have already tried yourself to help deal with a symptom or problem.

Also important to tell your GP

The GP will ask you a few questions about your situation. Perhaps you have important information that your doctor doesn’t ask about. For example:

  • Something about your background; for example if you are a musician or if you care for a family member with an illness.
  • An allergy to certain medications or substances.
  • Hereditary (genetic) diseases in your family.
  • If you have recently been in another country.
  • Serious things that have happened to you.

It is important to tell your doctor about these things too.

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Deciding together

Deciding together with your GP

Your GP will look at your situation and everything you have told. The GP will do this based on medical knowledge. The GP will give you an explanation and information. You will then discuss what is and isn't possible, and what you do or perhaps don't want.

  • Do you understand everything? If not, ask your GP to explain it. It is important to your GP that you understand what is wrong and what can be done about it.
  • Are you unsure about something? Tell your GP that too.
  • Questions are important. They help your doctor find a solution.

Questions that can help you are:

1. What are my options?

For example:

  • wait and see if your symptoms clear up on their own, or have treatment right away
  • live a healthier lifestyle
  • medication

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these options?

For example:

  • possibly get better quicker with medication (advantage)
  • possible side effects of medication (disadvantage)

3. What does that mean in my situation?

For example:

  • not taking medication that causes drowsiness, because you are a truck driver

You can find more information (in Dutch) about these questions at 3goedevragen.nl.

If you summarise the conversation in your own words, the GP will know if they have explained it correctly.

Time to think

You don't have to decide about your treatment right away. Sometimes it is better to take some time to think about everything at home. You can then make another appointment with your GP afterwards.

You can also visit Thuisarts.nl (in Dutch) to read information or watch an informational video in your own time at home.

More information

More information (in Dutch)

More information (in Dutch) about talking to your GP:

  • Naarjehuisarts: here you can make a list of your symptoms and questions.
  • 3goedevragen: this site provides information about the ‘3 good questions’ that are always good to ask.
  • Begineengoedgesprek: this site provides tips for the conversation with your doctor.
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