These are some useful phrases and tips to help you with your English speaking when you need medical help abroad. Don’t hesitate to try our SmallTalk English for Immigration course to role-play real-life dialogues and get prepared for your new life abroad!
Check out all SmallTalk English speaking courses here.
- I’d like to make/schedule an appointment with a doctor.
- I need to see a (doctor).
- I’m not feeling well.
- I have a headache / stomach ache / toothache.
- I need some help with …
- I (don’t) have health insurance.
- I have a couple of questions.
- Where can I …?
- Could I …?
- Could you help me please to …?
People: patient, doctor, nurse, visitor.
Common minor illnesses: rash, ache (stomach ache, headache, toothache, etc.), temperature (=fever), flue, cold, sneeze, cough, running nose, sore throat, sunburn, nausea, vomiting, (nose) bleed(ing), diarrhoea, feeling dizzy.
Common major conditions: faint, allergic reaction/allergy, high/low blood pressure, food poisoning, choking (on food), infection.
Trauma/injury: sprained/twisted ankle, swelling, bruise, broken arm/leg, cut, wound, burn.
Tests: blood/urine test, X-ray/CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, vaccination.
Treatment: bandage, plaster, medicine, pastille, pill, tablet, capsule, nose spray, (eye/ear) drops, (antiseptic) cream, antibiotics, aspirin, painkiller, paracetamol, injection, infusion, operation (=surgery), anaesthesia, physiotherapy.
Read the dialogues out loud.
Dialogue 1. Talking to the insurance company
ICSR*: Hello! How can I help you?
Client: Hi! I’m abroad right now and I have your medical insurance. I need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
ICSR: Could you tell me your name and surname please?
Client: Alex Woodow.
ICSR: Thank you. Could you tell me what happened?
Client: I’ve been feeling unwell for a couple of days. I have a headache and nausea. And I’m feeling a bit dizzy.
ICSR: I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have a temperature?
Client: Yes, 37.7. Yesterday it was higher.
ICSR: I see. We’ll send a GP to you tomorrow. Is it OK?
Client: Sure. What time will the doctor come?
ICSR: Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the exact time. But it will be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Client: Fine, I’m at home in any case.
ICSR: Could you give me your address, please?
Client: Germany, Berlin, Hemmingasse, 25.
CSR: All right. Please prepare your ID and insurance for the doctor’s visit tomorrow.
Client: Thank you. Goodbye!
Dialogue 2. Visiting a general practitioner (GP)
GP: Good morning! Please take a seat. What’s the problem?
Patient: I haven’t been feeling well for a few days. I keep having a sore throat and I’ve been coughing a lot too. And I have a temperature.
GP: Hmm…Have you been taking anything for the sore throat and cough?
Patient: Yes, I’ve taken a number of pastilles, tablets, sprays and paracetamol too. But they don’t really help.
GP: Let me see … Well, your temperature isn’t very high but it’s above normal, your throat is inflamed and I’m afraid you have bronchitis. I think it’s time to take antibiotics to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. OK?
Patient: Yes, thank you.
GP: OK. I’ll give you a prescription for antibiotics, new pastilles for the throat and a new nose spray. I’ve also written down when to take all this medicine.
Patient: Thank you, doctor. Where could I buy these drugs?
GP: They are sold almost at any pharmacy, including the pharmacy on the first floor of this building.
Patient: Great, thank you.
GP: You are welcome. Please take antibiotics and other medicine for a week and come to see me next Wednesday. All right?
Patient: I’ll make an appointment today. Thank you.
GP: Get well soon. Goodbye!
Dialogue 3. Speaking about a trauma
Surgeon: Hello! Please take a seat. Now, what seems to be the problem?
Patient: Good morning. 2 hours ago I slipped on ice and fell on my arm. Now it’s aching a lot.
Surgeon: Let me have a look. Hmm…Yes, it looks swollen. You should have an X-ray. You need room 25 on this floor. Please have an X-ray and come back.
Patient: Thank you!
Surgeon: Let’s look at your X-ray. It shows fractures here and here. Unfortunately, you need to be admitted to the hospital and have surgery to fix these fractures. Without it the bone might heal in the wrong position.
Patient: I see. I don’t have health insurance in this hospital. How much will it cost me?
Surgeon: It’s about 2000 euros, the receptionist on the first floor can tell you the exact price.
Patient: OK. When should I have this surgery?
Surgeon: It’s better to do it tomorrow morning at 10.00. Meanwhile you can take this painkiller to decrease the pain. Please come 2 hours before the surgery as we need to run a blood test.
Patient: Fine. Do I need a prescription for the painkiller?
Surgeon: No, you can buy it at any pharmacy without a prescription.
Patient: Thank you, doctor. Will you perform the surgery tomorrow?
Surgeon: Yes, me and my team. See you tomorrow.
* insurance customer service representative