There is a good chance that the doctor or therapist has conducted hundreds of such evaluations and will have numerous questions lined up. Resist the temptation to arrive with a preset agenda as to how you want the interview to go. Moreover, don’t try to figure out beforehand what is important and attempt to spew out the information shotgun-style in the first five minutes.
The worst thing you can do is come into an interview and start rambling—bouncing around from topic to topic without answering the examiner’s direct questions. A good rule of thumb is to answer the question as concisely as possible in one or two sentences. If necessary, explain your answer further. If the examiner doesn’t require any more information, he or she will move you on to the next topic. (Tip: It is best not to talk about legal settlements, or how you would spend any money you might receive.)
Try to stay focused and let the examiner lead the interview. It is much easier for the examiner to produce an organized report afterwards if the interview is conducted in an organized manner. Even psychologists and psychiatrists, who like to toss out open-ended questions, have an agenda for the interview.
Furthermore, jumping from topic to topic could result in the examiner misunderstanding you. In situations where the interviewed person rambles, the examiner usually ends up getting less—not more—key information. Staying focused and answering questions concisely makes for a happy examiner and benefits everyone.
At times, a case may be more complex than the doctor at first realizes. Don’t panic. If the doctor moves to a different topic too quickly, just say, “Is it okay if I add something important about my back pain?” or “Can I share how much this injury has hurt my relationship with my spouse?” If you have been polite, and concisely answered the previous questions, usually you will be allowed extra time.
One last thing: be mindful of the examiner’s specialty. An orthopedic surgeon won’t want a 15-minute detailed history of how bad your hemorrhoids hurt. Keep to the relevant topic.
Excerpt from 8 Secrets to a Better Independent Medical Examination.
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