Using T-P-A: Think, Prepare, Ask

 We have all been bored at the doctor’s office—long waiting times are not fun. However, if you are going to the doctor’s office, get something good out of it. TPA is an easy way to get more out of your time with the doctor.

Use Think-Prepare-Act!

What is it, exactly? We’re glad you asked.


Before you go, think about the doctor’s office. It may help to talk about it with your parents.

Get answers to these questions.

  • What are the reasons for this visit? — A check up? A more specific reason?
  • What makes you feel more comfortable? — Having a magazine or a book? Listening to music? Getting a good breakfast/lunch before?
  • What makes you feel less comfortable? —Rushing to get there? Not knowing why you have to go?
  • What questions do you have for the doctor?—By the end of the visit, what do you want to know?


After thinking about these things, prepare for your visit. And, you can even email your doctor.

  • Make a list of things that have happened (in your life and with your body) in the last school year (or even just one thing.)
  • Make a list of the things that make you feel comfortable.
  • Make a list of questions you have for your doctor. Be sure to write down anything you didn’t understand last time!


Finally, ask your doctors the questions you have and write down what the doctor has to say. No one can remember everything the doctor tells them, and writing it down is an easy way to look back at what the doctor says.

Also it’s standard for doctors to talk with teenaged patients one-on-one without parents. You should expect this. But if it doesn’t happen, ask to have some time alone to talk with the doctor, if the doctor doesn’t offer.

Remember: You can always ask to wait to change (if your visit includes a body exam) until after you have talked with the doctor, and when you understand more about the exam and what the doctors are looking for in the visit. You may also decide that today isn’t a good day for an exam, and you can always say ‘No’ if you aren’t ready for it.


Drawings can be easier to understand and remember than words. If it helps, ask your doctor to put the information in diagram for you to take home and look at it again.