Why We Ask So Many Questions

At each visit to your doctor’s office, it seems like you’re asked the same questions multiple times. The nurse repeats the questions you answered during check-in and then the doctor asks the same ones as the nurse. While it may feel like déjà vu, there’s an important reason we ask these questions more than once. By doing so, we make sure we have the correct information for you, and as much detail as possible to help provide you with quality care. 

While there’s only one “you” in the world, there could be many people who share your first name. That’s why we may ask for your full name and birthday after we call you in from the waiting room. We need to confirm we have the right “you,” especially if the nurse hasn’t seen you in a while or has never met you. 


Although doctors and nurses may ask the same questions, each uses your answers differently based on their training and role in your care.

The nurse’s main role in your visit is to be the record-keeper. It’s his or her job to make sure that information in your file is correct and no critical information (such as allergies or medications) is missing. The nurse also will ask about the reason for your visit. If you’re likely to need a vaccination or a procedure, she will begin to prepare while you’re with the doctor. 

Your doctor is responsible for diagnosis and treatment, and processes your answers in a different way. The doctor may have follow-up questions to the answers you gave to the nurse, and may confirm how the nurse recorded your answers. For example, if you point to pain in your stomach, the nurse may note that the pain is in your lower abdomen. The doctor will then know to ask you about the pain “in your abdomen,” to confirm the location so he or she examines the right place and asks the right follow-up questions. 

Another reason we repeat questions is because it’s common to remember more detail as time goes on. How often have you thought of an important point after a conversation ended, or when you’re retelling a story? We’ve found people can remember important details related to a nurse’s question by the time the doctor asks it again. 

Ultimately, we spend time with you asking—and re-asking questions to provide you with accurate diagnoses and appropriate care. 

That being said, please ask us questions too! We’re happy to answer them. It’s important that you understand what took place at your visit, your treatment plan and any follow-up instructions.

We appreciate your patience with our questions as we work together to reach your health goals.