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6 Secrets to Snagging a Last-Minute Doctor’s Appointment

Instead of adding yourself to a monthlong waiting list, use these insider strategies to help lock down a time slot STAT.

You worked through lunch and rushed out of the office to make it to your doctor’s appointment on time only to spend 45 minutes sitting in a waiting room full of out-of-date magazines. It’s enough to make you decide that maybe your shoulder pain isn’t that bad or that skipping that annual checkup wouldn’t be the end of the world. But a packed schedule—yours or the doctor’s—is no reason to let your health take a hit.

To avoid the headache of getting in to see the doctor, the scheduling pros at online booking service ZocDoc have analyzed real-time data to reveal the best—and the worst—times to land an appointment. Follow their tips and you’ll be hearing “The doctor will see you now” in no time flat.

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1. Avoid the medical rush hours.

Whether you’re scheduling an appointment with a general practitioner or a specialist, try to avoid booking on weekdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.—those are the most popular time slots to see the doctor (specifically, 10 a.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Monday, the absolute busiest times of the week). If you can’t wait weeks for an appointment, make yourself available during slower hours—like 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.—when your chances of actually getting on the books improve dramatically.

2. Snag a cancellation.

Since Tuesday is the most popular day to see the doctor, the second day of the workweek also ends up having the most cancellations, meaning more last-minute openings. If you’ve got some wiggle room in your schedule and need to squeeze in a checkup or take care of a non-urgent medical matter, call the doctor’s office in the morning to see if anyone has canceled or ask the receptionist to give you a ring if a time slot becomes available.

3. Have a case of the Mondays.

It might be your least favorite day of the week, but you’re most likely to luck out at the doctor’s office at the start of the workweek. Monday is the day with the most same-day appointments booked, meaning if you call in the morning, you’ll have a good chance of being seen that day. It’s also the day when you’ll spend the least amount of time in the waiting room.

4. Get in line.

Need that back cracked? Chiropractors see the most action on Mondays and Fridays, leaving the middle of the week prime time to get aligned.

5. Eat well on Wednesdays.

Midweek seems like the ideal time to check in on your diet goals, but Wednesday is the busiest day for dieticians.

6. Don’t play the waiting game.

Wait times go up as the week goes on, until Friday, which finally sees a decrease. (Hey, doctors want to get their weekends started, too.) Unless you enjoy reading three-month old magazines and eyeballing the receptionist, skip appointments later in the day on Thursdays.

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