A man circles a date on a calendar, surrounded by things he's preparing for an appointment.

How I Prepare for a Coming Appointment

My next appointment is in a couple of weeks. I know this because I called, as recent times have changed some of the ways that doctors and their patients communicate. I did not want to miss my appointment so I dialed their number and was told (strongly) that I could have answered that question by simply pulling up my account online. I guess I will do that next time first.

A dermatologist appointment on the calendar

So, I pulled up my account online and found out that my appointment is coming soon. I began to do a little research and found out that my appointment was with a physician’s assistant (PA) who I had never met before. It was then and there that the light went on. I have been seeing PA’s each of the last three visits and had very little time with the practice’s dermatologist. It probably has to do with the kind of insurance that I have.

In this practice, the PA’s seem like they have been doing a good job, but I know that I would feel more comfortable if the most highly qualified person (the dermatologist) was available to see me from the outset.

How to prepare for a skin cancer screening

As my appointment is less than a month away, here is what I am doing to make sure that it is the most beneficial for me.

1. Do some research

I am doing a little research on the PA who is listed as the person who will be seeing me. I want to know if this person is experienced in skin cancer detection and prevention and does not just focus on other skin conditions. It has been my experience that some dermatology practices focus on skin conditions like acne, which are more widespread. I want someone who understands melanoma.

2. Make notes about areas of concern

I make sure to document all potential skin cancer issues that I have noticed in my self-checks. I write them down so that I don’t forget anything. I make sure that each area of concern is addressed and if I am not satisfied, then I will ask to see the dermatologist. I also put together a list of questions related to my current condition and/or more general questions about good skincare practices and prevention.

3. Reduce sun exposure

I make sure to limit my time in the sun as much as possible leading up to the appointment so that my examination will not be affected any color from sun exposure. Of course, I should be doing this anyway.

4. Dress for the occassion

On the day of the appointment, I make sure to wear clothing that is comfortable and can be removed or pushed to the side during the examination. I try to shave and keep my hair short and not wear a hat. I want my scalp to be examined. Of course, I practice good general hygiene practices. I wear flip flops or sandals during the summer. I want a thorough examination of every part of my skin.

5. Bring a partner

I would recommend bringing your spouse or partner, if possible. My reasoning is that often this is the person who can help monitor possible skin issues. This person may have questions and can also point out areas of concern. Self-checks are important, but having another set of eyes is even better. Bring a friend!

My appointment is coming and it is both comforting and a bit scary. In an odd way, it brings both peace and anxiety. I like having a professional coming alongside me in my skin cancer journey. I just am a little bit concerned about what they might find. Being prepared for my appointment brings down my anxiety level a bit and I think will help me have better outcomes. I will let you know how things go.

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