When you have an upcoming doctor's appointment, or especially if you know you have a series of upcoming appointments, informing your supervisor and keeping them in the loop about the timing helps you maintain a positive professional relationship. It also ensures your work is covered and stays on schedule.
This situation could happen for a variety of reasons, such as an ongoing condition requiring many medical appointments, symptoms requiring several trips to diagnose, physical therapy, or mental health treatment with a therapist or psychiatrist.
Notifying Your Supervisor About a Doctor's Appointment
To make things easier, you can put your appointment details in writing so that your boss has a document as a reminder and for future reference. Construct your letter in a respectful, straightforward fashion and include relevant details your boss needs to know.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to tell your boss all the details of your doctor’s appointment. A short message explaining that you’ll be out of the office or not available online is appropriate.
Provide Advance Notice When Possible
Be sure to give as much advance notice as possible. If you can, send one email that includes the dates and times of your appointments, rather than multiple emails as information becomes available. It will decrease any uneasiness your manager may have if you suggest how you will handle coverage for your work, whether you will make up the work yourself, assign someone to cover your work or shift, or if you want your supervisor to handle the arrangements.
There is no reason to provide detailed information about your medical issues. If you want to see a therapist to work on mental health issues, for example, you do not need to specify this to your employer. It’s fine to describe these visits simply as “medical” appointments.
You're not obligated to provide a medical reason or a diagnosis for a doctor's appointment, but you may be asked for a doctor's note to support your request.
Doctor Appointment Message Examples
If you’re not sure how to word your message, use the following examples to get started.
Phrases to Use in Your Letter
These examples of phrasing can alert your supervisor to the issue while helping to maintain your privacy:
- I haven't been feeling well lately, and my doctor booked a few appointments to try to get to the bottom of whatever this is. I've tried to schedule these appointments early to avoid missing much work, but that hasn't always been possible. Here is the list of my appointment dates and times: [insert appointment dates and times].
- I am overdue for several medical appointments and I just wanted to let you know in advance that I will be out of the office or starting late because of these appointments. I will let you know about each specific date as soon as I schedule it: given the waiting list at my doctor’s and dentist’s offices, I suspect that I’ll be able to provide you with at least two weeks’ notice before each appointment.
- I have a weekly medical appointment on Wednesdays at noon for the next six weeks and I will need to take an extended lunch break to accommodate it. I will certainly stay later at the end of the day to complete my work, if necessary.
- I will be absent from Monday through Wednesday of next week due to doctor's appointments for health reasons. I’ve already spoken to Jim, who has agreed to cover for me during this time. No need to worry, and I anticipate being fine and in top working order upon my return.
Email Message Example
Here's a general message example for when you need to provide an email notification that you will be missing work (or have already been absent) because of a single doctor’s appointment.
Sample Doctor’s Appointment Email Message
Subject: [Your Name] – Doctor’s Appointment
Dear [Supervisor's Name]:
Please accept this letter as written notification that I will be unable to attend work on [date(s)] because of a previously scheduled doctor's appointment.
(Note: If an urgent or unplanned doctor's appointment arises for which you can't plan ahead, simply note that unfortunately you were unable to attend work on the given day and apologize that you weren't able to provide advanced notice.)
Please let me know if I can provide any further information or documentation.
How and When to Send the Message
Providing Advance Notice
Be sure to keep your email message professional. Life happens, and employers realize that, at times, employees will be absent for different reasons.
As long as you do not make a habit of absenteeism and, whenever possible, provide advance notice of those times when you anticipate missing work, your occasional absence should not reflect negatively upon your overall work performance.