In the United States going to the doctor seemed like a fairly routine thing. I set up the appointment, and then went to the doctor and told them the problem. Basically, going to the doctor works the same here ... but with a slight tweak.
In the U.S., even if we don't always think so, doctors and clinics are focused on preventative care. Even when you go in for a shot, the nurse takes your temperature, weight, height, blood pressure and pulse. It's comforting to know that they have your blood pressure from every time you have been to the doctor since childhood.
In Moscow things are different. Maybe it's because I'm a foreigner, but I have never been asked for my medical history. The first time I visited a clinic, I didn't have to fill out a form that asked me about my allergies or my family history of heart disease. I simply filled out a form with my contact information and signed a release form. Additionally, there was no nurse that greeted me and put me in an exam room to wait for the doctor. Immediately when my name was called, I was shown into the doctor's office (literally) and the doctor greeted me. This actually is a nice change. No waiting in the exam room for what feels like forever, just to have the doctor ask you the same questions the nurse just asked. When I went in for a cold in May, the doctor took my blood pressure and temperature, but only after talking to me for a few minutes about what was wrong. Not so bad you might say. I could get used to that.
And really it isn't bad, just different. I go to English speaking clinics because I trust them more. I am better able to interact and communicate with my doctor. The down side of this is that I pay more and some doctors charge per minute, so the more he can get you to talk, the more money he makes (not the best system for the patient). Yet, overall, despite the cost, or maybe because of it, my experience has been more than OK on the medical side of visiting the doctor's office.
While I have not been treated in Russian public hospital, I have visited one, and they aren't as bad as those opponents of social medicine might make you think. In fact, in many ways they are similar to American private hospitals. Granted they seem a bit cramped because three patients are put in each room unless you pay extra, and not everyone gets a television unless they pay extra, but overall the place was pretty decent. And who needs a television anyway :)
After my brief study of doctors and hospitals in Moscow, I have decided that while no one is ever excited to go to the doctor, it is not exactly something to be feared. when visiting or living in Moscow.