Your primary care physician is typically your initial contact in health care. When choosing a primary care physician, patients tend to choose a professional who is convenient to their home or office, and easy to travel to in times of illness.
Choosing a primary care physician often involves finding a doctor who you can build a relationship of trust and privacy with, as well as someone who will keep your wellness in mind.
Your primary care physician is also the person who acts as the “quarterback[t1] ” of your health – by conducting your annual physicals and being the first person you consult when you are sick or have questions or concerns about a possible health problem. With your help and active participation, he or she monitors you for changes in your overall health and well-being and will know when it is time to consult an appropriate specialist.
Depending on your health insurance, you are most likely covered for an annual physical exam with your primary care physician. This annual physical is a useful tool for your doctor to keep apprised of your general health, but it’s also beneficial for you. A physical exam and medical history give the chance to have conversations with and to ask questions of your physician to enrich the overall picture. By asking pertinent questions and keeping your primary care provider informed of changes in your health, together you can act as partners in your care and well being.
There are some important and useful questions that patients should ask at the time of their physicals. Some people may be anxious while in the doctor’s office, so it can be useful to write down any questions and concerns ahead of time. Bringing something to write down the answers – such as pen and paper, is recommended.
Along with any questions for your primary care physician, it is important to provide a list of all medications you’re currently taking, as well as the dosages. This includes any prescribed medication, over-the-counter preparations, as well as herbal supplements and vitamins. You can just gather up the bottles at home and vring them to your appointment.
Any patient with a chronic health condition should ask questions regarding the condition. Here are some more general questions to ask your primary care physician at your annual physical:
- How is my blood pressure? Is it in the healthy range? If not, what can I do to improve it?
- What screening tests do people of my age and sex typically need?
- Am I at a healthy weight? Has my weight changed significantly since my last physical?
- Am I due for any vaccines?
- Would it be wise for me to get a flu shot?
- At this time in my life, are there conditions in my family history that I need to look out for?
- If you are taking medications: Do I still need to take these medications? If you have had a blood test prior to the physical: Are my blood test results within the normal / healthy range?
- What additional tests/visits with doctors should I complete considering my specific state of health?
Your primary care physician’s answers to these general questions will help to provide you with a more accurate picture of your health. More importantly, they may create a good foundation for a conversation with your doctor on how to keep yourself well and active.
Get to know your primary care physician, build a relationship, and work together toward keeping yourself healthy. Not only is it important to develop an understanding of your own physical health, it is also very important to have a primary care physician you can trust to see you to wellness. If something were to ever go wrong with your health, you would have the foundation you need to work together to make things better.
If you are interested in learning more, contact your Intercoastal Medical Group physician to request an appointment here. Or complete a “Request and Appointment” form on our website if you are a new patient. We are happy to help, and happiest when you are healthiest!