Making the Most of Your Annual Physical
Like many people, you might dutifully schedule a yearly physical exam, even if you’re feeling perfectly fine. Or, your employer may require you to do so. But, the concept of an annual physical as a bellwether to one’s overall health has waned in popularity in recent years, with some experts questioning whether it is even necessary at all for healthy people (of course, anyone who has a chronic health condition, complicated medical history, or new symptoms should seek appropriate medical attention).
Despite the current debate, your annual physical exam still matters — just not in some of the ways that you might think. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can make a big difference in your health and well-being. For instance, regardless of what you may have been led to believe, some of the most important aspects of a yearly physical examination are not physical at all, such as:
- Building and maintaining a trusted doctor-patient relationship — Establishing a strong bond with a health care provider is perhaps the most important benefit of an annual physical. Ideally, this relationship will endure over the long term. A yearly exam provides an excellent opportunity for a physician and patient to review the patient’s health care goals and values.
- Sharing information — While most people come prepared to divulge details about their nutrition and exercise, many are less inclined to candidly discuss topics such as sexual risk factors, mental health status, substance use, sleep quality, and physical or mental abuse. Open and honest communications between a patient and physician are much more valuable to an overall health assessment than the results of arbitrary testing.
- Receiving appropriate screenings and immunizations — While certain cancer screening tests, cardiovascular risk assessments, and immunizations are very important, in many cases there is no need to perform them on an annual basis. Instead, a familiar and trusted medical professional can provide personalized guidance and recommend an appropriate schedule based on many unique factors.
- Forgoing unnecessary lab tests — During an annual physical, a physician may order certain lab tests. However, routine blood testing is not always necessary to confirm a patient’s health status, and more testing is not necessarily better. Most lab tests are not 100 percent accurate, and a false positive result may lead to further investigation, expense, and anxiety, all of which may turn out to be completely unwarranted.
Whether you would like to establish a relationship with a new physician or you haven’t seen a medical professional in years, you are welcome to contact South Tampa Immediate Care. You do not need an appointment to visit our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by an experienced physician who can provide personalized health care services. We believe that your well-being encompasses more than checked boxes or outdated guidelines, and we’re here to help you get and stay healthy.