Managing Waiting in an Exam Room

Editor’s Note:  In the comments to Jimmy Beldon’s previous post, someone raised the possibility of stepping out of the exam room to wait for the doctor or nurse in the hall to be sure they were familiar with how to work with an interpreter. Here is a follow-up commentary by Amy Williamson-Loga posing some questions about that very issue.

by Amy Williamson-Loga

I have a question I’d like to pose to all of you. During a medical appointment, the nurse generally starts in the examination room taking vitals, like pulse, temperature, and weight, and then asking preliminary information about what is wrong with the patient, This all happens before seeing the doctor. Generally, the nurse, after getting the information, then leaves the room, leaving the patient to wait for the doctor.

My question is how do you handle this waiting time. Do you stay and talk with the patient? Do you leave and wait outside for the doctor to come? And with these two choices, how do you interact with the patient? Do you ask them if they’d like you to stay or leave? Or do you just leave? Or just stay and engage them in conversation?

For me, it really depends on the individual and what my relationship with them is, but I’m really wondering how you handle this part of a medical appointment.

Translation by Doug Bowen-Bailey