Get an annual physical to maintain your best health

Primary Care Wellness Health Screenings
calendar reminding you to schedule annual physical

Seeing your primary care provider for your annual physical is a great time to be screened for common conditions and develop the all-important relationship with your primary care doctor. It can also bring you peace of mind that you are doing all you can do to live your healthiest life. 

“Even if you are feeling great, the time you invest in a well visit or annual physical pays off in keeping you healthy long-term,” says Dwight Herbert, M.D., family medicine provider at Riverside Health System. 

During the annual physical, you can expect your doctor to ask about your health habits, get you up to date on immunizations, identify any issues that could develop later, and recommend health screenings. This checkup is an opportunity for you and your doctor to establish a trusting relationship. 

How to prepare for your annual physical

There are some things you can do to prepare for your wellness visit. These tips will enable your doctor to provide the best care for you: 

  • Be candid about tough issues, including any history of sexually transmitted disease, depression, or other mental health issues. 
  • Bring a list of all medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – you currently take, as well as all vitamins, supplements and herbs. 
  • Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothing that is easy to move, so that your provider can check your blood pressure, lungs and pulse. 
  • Gather your personal and family health history. Bring details on health conditions that your parents, grandparents, siblings, and children have had as well as the cause of death for any who have died. Knowing the types of conditions that run in your family can help your primary care provider recommend the most appropriate types of screening tests for you.
  • Jot down a list of your significant medical history, including surgeries or major illnesses, and any adverse reactions to medications or anesthesia. 

Questions to ask your doctor

Come to your appointment prepared with your questions. You may want to ask:

  • At what age do you recommend I start routine health screenings, such as colonoscopy or mammogram?
  • Based on my family history, what types of diseases am I at higher risk of developing? What can I do to proactively decrease my risks?
  • How often do you recommend I see you?
  • What are you checking for in the blood tests you’re running today?
  • What can I do to become a healthier version of myself?

What to expect during an annual physical

The annual physical is a yearly “check point” between you and your primary care provider. “During this visit, your doctor screens you for new potential health conditions, checks that your existing conditions are properly managed, and addresses any concerns you may have,” says Dr. Herbert.

During the annual physical, your doctor or other medical staff typically will:

  • Ask questions about your lifestyle, such as if you smoke and how much exercise you get
  • Check your abdominal organs by feeling your abdomen while you lie down
  • Check your height, weight and pulse
  • Collect a sample of your blood for metabolic panel testing and other blood tests
  • Collect a sample of your urine for a urinalysis 
  • Examine your skin for marks or growths
  • Gather your personal and family health history
  • Listen to your heart, lungs and intestines using a stethoscope

Your primary care provider will receive detailed reports showing the results of your urinalysis, metabolic panel testing, and any other tests you undergo during your annual physical. If all aspects of your tests are normal, you may not hear anything from your provider’s office. If the tests show that there is some abnormality, your provider’s office will contact you to discuss these results and may schedule additional testing. Working together, you and your primary care provider can chart a course to be your healthiest you.

Make an appointment

Finding a primary care provider and scheduling your annual physical is the first step you can take to living your healthiest life. Working with a doctor to manage any existing health conditions you have – as well as diagnosing and treating new conditions as soon as they arise – is key to lifelong health. 

Schedule an appointment today.

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