Learn to Adult: Scheduling Appointments



As we grow older we can rely less on our parents to schedule appointments for us. As we slowly wean off glancing at mom every time a doctor asks what’s wrong, so do we move on into the territory of making the dreaded phone calls or walk-ins when it’s time. Doctor, dentist, even auto appointments and getting in at the salon, here’s the how-to on scheduling appointments.


1. Don’t wait until the last minute

Like a school project, it’s easy to say you’ll get to it tomorrow. Next thing you know it’s suddenly next week and that appointment needs to be taken care of in a few days. Scheduling this close to the end date can put strain on the office you’re contacting, and even then, they may not have time to place you. As soon as you know you need an appointment, call the office/store to get it placed. You’ll get the best day and hour that works for you, and they won’t stress about squeezing you in.


2. Be prepared to explain what you need

Secretaries aren’t mind readers so don’t treat them like they are. Depending on who you’re calling you’ll need to explain your reason for requesting an appointment. Is it your yearly check-up? Is your car making funny noises? Are you stopping in to interview someone for a project? Providing detail will make sure the secretary schedules you appropriately and there’s no miscommunication when arriving.


3. Sometimes a referral is necessary, so know where to get one

Specialty doctors like the gynecologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, etc. sometimes require a referral before scheduling an appointment. These can be done through your primary care physician. If you don’t have one, call the office you want to schedule with and inquire about whether or not a referral is needed, and if so, where you can obtain one to get scheduled. Your doctor will call you when the referral was made telling you that you’re all set, or better yet, the office you need will call you directly to schedule.


4. Write it down

Now isn’t the time to test your memory. Once scheduled, write the appointment date and time down so you don’t forget. In a planner, on a calendar, or in your phone, make sure it’s somewhere you’ll see it as the time gets closer. Missing an appointment can result in fees, hassle, and in extreme cases, some companies will ask that you not come back. If possible, ask the company to provide you with a complimentary phone call or mailed postcard to remind you of your upcoming appointment.


5. Ask about prices early

Getting a menu with no prices on it is scary enough, don’t put the same fear into your appointments. Medical bills can be pricey, so can auto repairs, beauty visits, and other services. If you aren’t aware of the charges or how insurance plays out beforehand make sure to ask while scheduling. If you can’t afford the service it’ll save the hassle of showing up to realize the mistake. It also offers the opportunity to ask about payment options and discounts.


6. Be aware of cancellation policies

Many companies require at least a 24-hour notice prior to cancellation to make sure they fit as many customers as possible. Abide by this rule and ask each location for their specific policy. Not only is it polite, but canceling too close to your date and time can also mean fees. Sometimes you just have to cancel. Make sure to let them know as soon as possible.