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14 Reasons One Doctor Has Stopped Eating Tilapia and Two More Question All Kinds of Fish

14 Reasons One Doctor Has Stopped Eating Tilapia and Two More Question All Kinds of Fish

There’s something fishy happening in the world of seafood, and we’re not quite sure how to handle it. While health concerns with foods as seemingly simple as a can of tuna fish have been raised by some, others are doing their best to remedy this and bring purity back to the seafood industry. Whether it’s tuna fish, salmon, or tilapia, though, it’s important that the entire food industry takes a step back and reassess the way fish are raised, processed, and served.

Click here to see 14 Reasons Doctors Have Stopped Eating Tilapia and Other Fish.

The sushi industry, in particular, has had some mislabeling issues over the past few years. According to a study by Oceana, in 2012, roughly 58 percent of New York City sushi restaurants were selling fish that wasn’t labeled properly, with the worst culprits being rolls and platters advertising the inclusion of red snapper. There were up to 13 different types of fish labelled as red snapper that were, in fact, entirely different species. Additionally, about 94 percent of white tuna sold in the same year wasn’t white tuna at all. This “white tuna” was actually escolar, a type of snake mackerel with purgative effects.

There are efforts being made to fix this problem, though, and plans are being put in motion to install more classically trained sushi chefs in designated Japanese-grade sushi restaurants here in America and elsewhere around the world. The problems with sushi are but one issue affecting seafood consumption in this country. In addition to mislabeling, sketchy sourcing and the potential negative effects some fish can have on the body (no one wants to eat fish that has anything even close to purgative effects) all stand in stark opposition to the current American desires for transparent labeling, local sourcing, and food purity.

Dr. Michael S. Fenster, MD, FACC, FSCA&I, PEMBA, a faculty member at The University of Montana College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, has strong convictions when it comes to the consumption of seafood, sushi and otherwise. Specifically, he has a few fish bones to pick with one of the most widely available types of seafood in America today: tilapia.

“Health experts are continually berating us to eat more fish," says Dr. Fenster. "The health benefits observed in cultures in which fish and seafood play a prominent role are hard to deny. The fact that there is quite literally an ocean of tastes and textures to suit any palate would seem to render the logic of any argument, or any resistance, futile. But to simply bludgeon us over the head like a harp seal with the mandate to consume more fish without any regard to the type, character, and quality of our choosing is not only a dereliction of dietary duty, but downright dangerous. While I am an avid consumer of things marine, piscine, and occasionally culinarily obscene (some friends still gross out when I gobble down the whole plate of uni sashimi), I have limits and lines that shan’t be crossed. It is my red-algae line in the sand from where I throw that stuff back into the water.”

With that in mind, here are Dr. Fenster’s reasons for not eating tilapia, as well as some insight from two other doctors regarding fish in general and why they won’t eat it.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.


16 Secrets Every Doctor's Receptionist Knows

The average wait time to see a physician in 15 major US cities is 18.5 days. Need a GP in Boston? That'll be 66 days (on average). If you're hunting for a dermatologist in Philadelphia, try 49 days.

Accessing doctors is just one of the maddening things about medical care, but the secret to navigating it all is right there in the waiting room with you: the receptionist. As the office gatekeepers, they know all the tricks. so we asked them to spill. Here, their top tips for getting prompt, quality health care&mdashanywhere.

1. It is possible to get a same-day appointment. If you need a day-of visit, call between 10 and 11 AM, because that's when most offices will know about afternoon cancellations. Angelica Ruiz, who works with New York dermatologist Dina Strachan, advises against leaving a message. "I've had people forget to leave a call-back number or I can't understand what they're saying, so always try to get ahold of somebody," she says. And if it's raining or snowing outside, chances are another patient didn't want to face the bad weather, leaving an open time slot for you to snatch up.

Adds Julie Ullman, a receptionist at the Scottsdale, AZ, office of obstetrician-gynecologist Gino Tutera, "If your last-minute request is due to an urgent matter, make that clear to the receptionist." And one rule reigns over all others: Be flexible. If the office can squeeze you in, take whatever time they can give you.

2. Trust the nurses. What you think is a question only a doctor can answer may actually be something a nurse is qualified to handle. But rest assured, "if it's something more involved, the nurse will put the phone in the doctor's hands," says Lisa Ogletree, a receptionist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, OR.

3. Schedule appointments for the early morning or right after lunch. That's when docs are most likely to be on time, so you'll wait less. If these slots don't fit your schedule, make a Wednesday appointment. That's the slowest day in most offices.

4. Give a deadline. If you can't avoid busy office times, tell the receptionist when you call that you need to leave by a certain time. "I'll know not to book you next to a procedure or an annual visit, which takes longer," says Ogletree.

5. Save your annual checkup for late spring or summer. From May through August, most people are relatively healthy and on vacation, so doctors' offices of all kinds are quieter. September is good, too, because it's back-to-school time.

6. Stay away in December. Cold and flu season makes winter the busiest time, with December being especially nuts. "People want to use up their insurance benefits or flexible spending accounts before year's end," explains Robin Omeltschenko, director of operations at Cincinnati's Total Dentistry.

7. Call to check on things. If you have a late-day appointment, call the office an hour ahead of time to see if the doctor is on schedule. If not, ask when to show up.

8. Request any paperwork ahead of time. If you're a new patient and you can't arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment, ask the office to send the required forms beforehand. (Some offices also make them available online or via e-mail.)

9. Double-check everything. To avoid screwups that'll cause delays or force a return trip, check with the office the day before your appointment to be sure all necessary lab and test results are in. Call your insurance provider to double-check coverage and co-pay. And, of course, don't forget your insurance card and ID.

10. You can avoid the office entirely by asking the receptionist this: Is the doctor open to receiving e-mails and text messages? Does the doctor set aside any time for non-emergency phone conversations with patients? If so, you're in!

11. Book your own appointment. ZocDoc.com could make receptionists obsolete. Search the free online database by city and specialty to find ratings and availability. Refine your search by doctor gender, reason for visit, and accepted insurance. Then book with just a few clicks. Couldn't be easier&mdashbut there's also no way to sweet-talk the computer.

12. Choose your day wisely. Avoid appointments on Mondays and Fridays they're the busiest days in most offices.

13. Don't come with a long list of ailments. Some receptionists refer to a patient's complaints as a "bucket list of all the things they've been saving up to ask the doctor," says Rachel Wilcox, a receptionist for Randolph Schnitman, MD, in Beverly Hills, CA. Patients may wait to see the doctor because one small ailment doesn't seem that important or they don't want to pay for a visit. In reality, arriving with too many things to discuss will detract from your appointment. "If you have 10 different items, the doctor won't have enough time to focus on each one," says Wilcox. Try to limit each visit to two issues.

14. Don't be late. Tardy or unprepared patients are the main reasons doctors fall behind. "Showing up on time is hugely important because you're able to get your full consultation without being rushed," says Rachel Mazza, a receptionist for Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York. That said, receptionists understand that stuff happens&mdashand they say the best thing you can do is get in touch. "Whether you're canceling or running late, a phone call helps a lot so we can reshuffle in advance," Ruiz says. If you absolutely can't avoid being late, know that a patient who arrives after you for a later appointment&mdashbut is on time&mdashwill likely be seen first.

15. Check your attitude at the door. If there's one thing many patients lack, it's, well, patience. Receptionists know you're busy and don't want to wait, but they'd appreciate you keeping the complaints to yourself. "We try our best to give service with a smile, and when patients are rude it makes our jobs harder," says Ruiz. As Wilcox puts it: "I don't mind if patients are late, but it really bothers me when they get pushy and want to be seen right away."

16. Ditch the doctor if he's chronically late.
Chances are good you'll always have to wait a few minutes before the doctor is ready to see you. But if it happens every single time you visit, you may want to look elsewhere. "If you get in early and you're still waiting 30 minutes or an hour to be seen, then I'd start asking some questions," Wilcox says.