We’ve all been told about the importance of preventive medicine – that diagnosing a medical issue early makes it easier to treat and may even save your life.
But sometimes, getting that annual physical is easier said than done. You’re busy. You cannot take time off work. You’re traveling. So, you put that appointment with your family doctor on the back burner.
Primary care physicians agree that there are important reasons to schedule an annual checkup every year – reasons you may not have considered.
Build a Trusted Relationship
“It’s wise to establish a relationship with a family physician before there is an urgent need,” observes Jeanine Bulan, MD, an internist with Atlantic Medical Group in New Providence. “That way, there’s someone who knows about your past medical issues, your family history and your overall lifestyle. They can monitor your preventive care, keep track of other screenings such as mammograms, Pap smears and colonoscopies, as well as step right in to coordinate specialized care if a serious health issue arises.”
Technology complements that relationship.
“We can all go online and get medical information, but nothing beats the personal approach,” says Elise Butkiewicz, MD, medical director of Overlook’s Family Medicine Residency Program and a community-based family physician at Overlook’s Family Medicine Center in Summit. “Having a relationship with your family physician has ‘round-the-clock benefits. Whether you’re home or away, you can call our office and get advice, access your online patient portal for test results and appointments, and communicate with us via a secure online messaging system.”
Doctor-patient relationships can also extend past your own health care, she points out. Your family physician can be a trusted adviser when searching for resources like assisted living facilities for your elderly parents or sports medicine facilities for your teen athlete.
“We want people to feel comfortable at our office,” adds Dr. Butkiewicz, who completed her own residency training with Overlook’s Family Medicine Department 20 years ago. “Patients are assigned to designated nurses, some of whom have been with the practice for more than 30 years. They have a great sense of familiarity with our health care team, which contributes to the relationships we build and the family atmosphere that creates.”
Know Your Numbers
There are many serious health issues that have no symptoms, and high blood pressure and diabetes are just two of them.
“If you get annual blood work and blood pressure screenings, you’ll know your numbers for cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and other health indicators,” says Dr. Bulan. “Ideally, you should have blood work done at least a week before you see your doctor,” she points out, “so that you can review the results in person, understand what those numbers mean, and discuss steps you might take to address issues that are detected.”
Patients newly diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, for example, can be paired with a certified diabetes educator who will help them understand how to manage their condition through diet, exercise, stress management and medication.
Mind Your Mind Health
Are you stressed? Feeling anxious or a little down? When you have a trusted relationship with your family doctor, you’ll feel more comfortable discussing personal issues that may be impacting your emotional health.
“During an annual checkup, we look at the whole patient – your physical as well as your emotional well-being,” comments Dr. Butkiewicz. “We encourage you to tell us how you’re feeling, and can provide access to on-site counseling, long-term therapy, group counseling, and medication, if needed, to address a patient’s behavioral health needs.”
An annual checkup is a good time to set health goals for the upcoming year, advises Dr. Bulan.
Whether you want to quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier, or start an exercise program, your family physician can get you on the right track and help monitor your progress. Your next visit will be your motivation to achieve a healthier you.
Are you looking for a new primary care physician? Call 1-844-264-2250.