Disclaimer: This article is written specifically about the CMT clinic on Moscovskii Prospect which is a good example of a modern Russian clinic and has some good doctors. If this is your first time to go to a Russian medical clinic, here’s what you can expect:

Passport to move to Russia
  1. Don’t forget to take your passport and insurance card with you, you won’t be allowed to see the doctor without these.

2. Go about 15 minutes early. The reason for this is that you don’t just walk into registration and notify them of your presence and wait til they call you back. This is a different system and you need to allow yourself enough time to get through all of the other hoops before you can see the doctor.

When you enter, DO NOT FORGET to put on бахилы! Those are the little blue shoe covers you’re required to wear in all clinics (medical/dental/etc), some offices, palaces, etc. You will probably get yelled at for not wearing these.

4. If it’s winter, coats have to be checked into the coat room before proceeding to registration. The reason for this is because your coat carries outside dirt which is considered unhealthy, so it must be stored away before further entering the establishment.

5. In most clinics, you have to take a talon and get in line at the registration desk. There are usually a few options on the screen which are probably different at each clinic, but don’t panic if you choose the wrong thing because the ladies at the registration desk are pretty understanding and will help you get to the right place/person.

Press Регистратура.

Then Other (if you don’t have Russian insurance).

A talon will be printed out with a number. You wait until your number is called out and comes up on the TV screen.

6. Once your number is called, you go to the registration desk and give them your passport and insurance card. They usually ask what doctor you’re visiting. If you don’t remember, they can look it up. They then give you a sheet of paper with the room number where your doctor is that day. The doctors often share these rooms and move around, so do pay attention to the room number.

7. Now that you’ve registered, the rest of the appointment is up to you. There’s no waiting room and no assistant to escort you to a separate room where you’ll wait on the doctor to come in. You go straight to the room by yourself.

They do have a light system… ish (look for the light at the top of the door). No one has ever been able to tell me if light on means you can see the doctor or if the doctor is busy.

If it’s time for your appointment, look around and see if there’s anyone else sitting outside of the room. If there is, ask them if they know if anyone’s in the doctor’s office in room #xxx (there are other rooms nearby where these patients may be waiting for their doctor in a different room). If they don’t know or if no one’s there, knock gently on the door and listen for a response. If the doctor’s not busy and is ready for your appointment then he/she will tell you to come in (‘Проходите!’) and if not then you should wait outside (‘Подождите пожалуйста!’) until the patient in there comes out or the doctor tells you you may go in.

If you arrive early (let’s say your appointment is at 12:30 and it’s 12:15) and there are people sitting outside and you know it’s not time for your appointment, it’s best to ask a.) if the doctor is seeing someone and then b.) notify those sitting there that your appointment is at 12:30. This may sound silly, but the reason for this is because you may be skipped if you do not.

8. Look up some vocabulary words you may need to know before you go in. Medical vocabulary isn’t something one usually learns in the textbooks and it’s scary when you have no idea what’s going on. I also recommend having some Russian you trust, who speaks English super well that you can call or who will go with you if you really need help understanding the doctor.

Be prepared that some doctors are not patient with this and do not want to waste time explaining to someone else what’s going on with you or don’t want to let someone else enter the room with you. If you explain that it’s difficult for you to understand medical terminology and scary not to understand what’s happening, they usually relax a bit.