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Making a Doctor's Appointment

Making a Doctor's Appointment

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Making a doctor's appointment


Hello! In this lesson we will practice making a doctor's appointment in English. In another lesson we practiced making an appointment over the phone. Since the steps are the same for making most appointments for personal and medical services, please review that lesson if you need some practice before calling to make your appointment.

In this dialog, the receptionist has already answered the phone with the name of the clinic and has identified herself as Margaret. Jennifer has identified herself. Jennifer is now stating the reason for her call.

Jennifer: I'd like to make an appointment to see a doctor.

Margaret: Are you a regular patient here?

Jennifer: No, I've never been there before.

Margaret: What is the nature of your complaint?

Jennifer: I've had a headache and a sore throat.

Margaret: Dr. Kane could see you this afternoon at 2:00.

Jennifer: Today at 2:00? Wonderful. Thank you.

Margaret: Do you have insurance or will you be paying?

Jennifer: I have insurance.

Margaret: Since this is your first time here, we'll need you to come in about 15 minutes early to fill out some forms.

Jennifer: Okay.

Margaret: Do you know your co-pay and will you will be able to pay that today?

Jennifer: Yes, it's 20 percent. I can pay it today.

Jennifer starts the conversation by stating that she needs an appointment to see a doctor. She says "I'd like to make an appointment to see a doctor." She could also say "I need to see a doctor." or she could begin by stating her problem: "I'd like to see a doctor for a headache and sore throat." Or "I need to see someone for a headache and sore throat.". Since she is calling a clinic, the receptionist already knows that Jennifer is seeking medical assistance, so the word "someone" means medical provider in this instance.

The receptionist asks if Jennifer is a regular patient. She says "Are you a regular patient here?". She wants to know if Jennifer's insurance and health information are already on file here.

Jennifer says "No, I've never been there before.". Maybe she is a regular patient there. She could say "Yes, I am a regular patient there. I usually see Dr. Kane.".

The receptionist asks "What is the nature of your complaint?". She needs to know Jennifer's symptoms in order to estimate how long Jennifer's appointment will be. She might also say "What are your symptoms?" or "What is the problem?" or "What are you seeing the doctor about?" or "Why do you need to see the doctor?".

Jennifer replies "I've had a headache and sore throat.". Of course there are many reasons to make a doctor's appointment. Here are some of them:

I have had some pain in my:

ear/ eye / nose / jaw / face /mouth

neck / shoulder / elbow / wrist / hand

chest / breast / stomach / hip / groin / back

leg / knee / ankle / foot

joints / muscles / bones

I am having trouble:

breathing / walking / bending / reaching

I have had some:

weakness / spasms / inflammation / pain /shortness of breath /rapid heartbeat


I have been feeling:
depressed / emotional / anxious / hyper /tired

I need some medicine for my:
arthritis / asthma / bronchitis / depression / diabetes / ADHD / MS /

I need a:
complete physical / Pap test / A1C test / (name of process or test)

Margaret and Jennifer agree upon a time and verify it. Margaret says "Dr. Kane could see you this afternoon at 2:00.". Jennifer verifies the time by saying "Today at 2:00? Wonderful. Thank you.". If Jennifer were seeing a doctor for a more personal problem, she might want to ask if Dr. Kane is a man or a woman. She could say. "Is Dr. Kane a man or a woman?" or she could say "I'd really like to see a woman about this. Is Dr. Kane a woman?". It might take longer to get an appointment if Jennifer has a specific doctor in mind or if she prefers a man or a woman doctor. But it is certainly a common request.

The receptionist asks "Do you have insurance or will you be paying?". She could have said "Do you have insurance or will this be out of pocket?". The expression "out of pocket" means paying for the cost yourself, without insurance. Some doctors' offices might ask "What kind of insurance do you have?" or "We require payment at the time of service. Will you be able to pay today?" or "Will you be able to cover the cost today?" or "How are you planning to cover today's appointment?". The expression "to cover" means the same as "to pay for".

Jennifer says "I have insurance.". She might have told the name of her insurance company: "I have _______ insurance." or "I have insurance through (company name). " or "I'll be paying in cash." or "I'll be writing you a check today.".

The receptionist says "Since this is your first time here, we'll need you to come in about 15 minutes early to fill out some forms.". She could have said "Can you come in about 15 minutes early to fill out some forms?", and Jennifer agrees.

The receptionist then says "Do you know your co-pay and will you be able to pay that today?". Most U.S. insurance companies require the patient to pay a certain percentage of the cost of each doctor visit. The percentage of the payment is called a "co-pay". Since some doctors' offices and clinics require payment at the time of the appointment, they ask these questions to be sure the patients will be able to pay. If the patients are unable to pay, or if they have an insurance that is not accepted by this doctor, the doctors' office might refer them to a different clinic or doctors' office.

Jennifer says "Yes, it's 20 percent. I can pay it today.". She could have said "Yes, my co-pay is 20 percent. I can't pay it today. What should I do?". If she can't pay it today, the receptionist might tell her "Maybe you should go to the ER.". The ER is the "Emergency Room". An ER usually does not turn sick people away. Or the receptionist might say "Come in anyway. We will work out a payment plan." Usually doctors' offices will make financial arrangements with patients who cannot pay right away, but who intend to pay.

Jennifer and the receptionist close the conversation by verifying the time of the appointment. Jennifer thanks the receptionist. The receptionist thanks Jennifer and says goodbye.

(Before visiting the United States, become knowledgeable about the health insurance system. Be sure that you have insurance which will pay for doctor appointments and emergency medical problems. The system is complicated, and it is not advisable to neglect health insurance, even for one day. Short-term insurance policies are available to international travelers, so you should purchase it in your country before you travel to the U.S. if possible. )

Now you are ready to make a medical appointment on the phone.