Checking your wellness now to stay healthier in the future
Today you feel great. It’s a beautiful day. You can breathe well, move easily, had a great night’s sleep, and have plenty of energy to last the day. The last thing on your mind is making an appointment with your primary care provider. However, it is a great time for you to make that wellness visit, and make sure that what your body is doing on the inside matches how you feel on the outside. And if you don’t feel great? All the more reason to visit your provider and find out why.
Primary care providers do more than treat colds and manage diseases. They are the individuals who provide your day-to-day health care. Their goal is to keep you healthy, prevent future illness and disease, and to help you manage any existing chronic health conditions. They get to know you, your health history, and your overall health and medical condition. They are your principal point of continuing care within the health care system.
You also get to know your provider and care team. This builds a long-term relationship that can help reveal ongoing health issues that might otherwise go unrecognized at a single doctor’s office visit. Such relationships lead to better communication and disease management, less risk of complications, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer visits to an emergency department.
Nicolas Licari, a family nurse practitioner at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence, said an annual, complete physical exam, or well visit, is the most important thing an individual can do for his or her health – even when feeling healthy. These wellness visits will typically include a review of personal and family medical history, routine vaccinations, blood pressure and vital sign checks, blood tests to check how well the body’s organs are working, lifestyle screenings such as nutrition and diet concerns, age-appropriate tests, depression screenings, and more.
While many primary care providers, also known as family medicine practitioners, offer services for all ages, some specialize in treating individuals in specific life stages. Many specialize in senior care issues while others, known as pediatricians, focus on illnesses and health issues that impact children. Senior care can include additional assessments that take a closer look at factors such as fall risks, physical activity levels, and functional abilities, while pediatricians take closer looks at issues such as cognitive and physical development.
Jessica Robinson, a physician assistant with HopeHealth Pediatrics in Manning, said that primary care physicians impart the importance of taking care of their health to their patients and teach people to help take care of themselves.
“Especially in pediatrics,” she said. “Because that is where it starts – from day one or two after they are born – it is the foundation of them helping care for themselves for the rest of their lives and teaches them that the doctor’s office is not a bad place. It is not just about shots. It’s not a scary place.”
Selecting a provider
If you are in search of a primary care provider keep the following in mind:
- First, and most importantly, your primary care provider should be someone you are comfortable with and to whom you are willing to be as open and honest as possible about your health concerns. Your relationship with your provider will be a life-long journey addressing your most personal needs.
- Do you need a primary care provider who specializes in your stage of life? Some providers, often called general practitioners or family medicine providers, will see patients of all ages. Others focus on specific life stages. Pediatricians care for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults through age 18; internal medicine providers generally see only adult patients age 18 and older; and geriatric providers specialized in senior care. Women can also opt to choose a gynecologist, a provider who focuses on women’s health, as a primary care provider.
For your best opportunity to stay healthy and for healthier long-term outcomes, make your annual appointment with your primary care provider today.