Each year in Pennsylvania, you have to bring your car in for inspection. During this time, a professional will check to see how your vehicle is running and let you know if there’s anything that needs a tune-up (like your brakes or engine).
In the same way that you get car inspections each year, you should also schedule an annual wellness exam with your primary care provider. An annual wellness visit is a great way to get insight into your overall health and helps to identify any health changes from year to year.
While it might seem like just another routine visit with your primary care provider (PCP), you can actually get a lot out of it — especially by asking good questions.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, don’t worry. Here are 7 questions to ask your PCP at your annual wellness visit.
1. What tests or vaccinations do I need — or are there any I’m overdue for?
As you get older, you will need different vaccinations and screenings to help you manage and stay informed about your health. They are a key part of preventative healthcare, protecting you from different illnesses and diseases.
“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many people missed out on important age-based screenings like colonoscopies, and some people may still be playing catch up. If you think you’re overdue for routine screenings or vaccinations, don’t worry. Your primary care provider can help you identify what you need,” says Manish Kumar, Primary Care Physician at Penn Family Medicine West Chester.
It’s never too late to get on top of your health, and it’s important to know what kinds of tests and vaccinations should be scheduled in your future.
2. How do I get the results from any tests or screenings?
During your annual wellness exam, it’s common for providers to order different lab tests. Depending on your age, they may order a simple blood test to measure different things such as your cholesterol, glucose, or vitamin/mineral levels.
Once this test is done, you may be wondering where you can get the results. Your provider can tell you whether you will get a phone call, email or if you should check your myPennMedicine account.
3. I’ve been experiencing __________. What can we do to help improve that?
In between visits, you may find your body or mood changing. You may notice a pain in your back that just won’t go away. Or a new mole on your foot. Or that you’re more worried than normal. Bodies and brains change as we age, and these developments might have you wondering what’s going on — and if there’s anything else you can do about it.
Even if a change seems small, it might be trying to tell you something about your physical or mental health. Ask your primary care provider about anything new — especially if it’s making everyday tasks difficult, uncomfortable or unenjoyable.
4. What can I do to improve my overall health or specific condition?
Your annual wellness exam is a great time to check in on your overall health and ask yourself if there is anything you want to improve. In general, you may want to add more movement to your day and eat healthier. Or you may be looking for guidance about a specific condition you want to take steps toward managing.
“Your provider can make recommendations about nutrition, exercise, or other conditions/symptoms that are impacting your health. We’re here to help you achieve your health goals no matter what they are,” explains Dr. Kumar.
5. Are there any changes I should make to the medications I’m currently taking?
Your annual exam is a good opportunity to discuss any medications you have been prescribed. Take some time to ask about prescriptions you may be taking — your provider will let you know if you should still take them or make other recommendations if your current treatment isn’t working.
6. How might my family medical history affect my health or risk for certain conditions?
Just like genetics determine your eye or hair color, they can also impact your health and risk for different conditions. Some cancers like colorectal, breast, and ovarian cancers can have a genetic component, and you may be at a higher risk if these cancers have been diagnosed in your family.
Let your provider know about any new developments, not only in your own health history but in your family’s, too.
7. When should I schedule my next appointment with you?
You should schedule a wellness visit with your primary care provider every year, but based on your age or health condition, they may want to follow up sooner. Ask your provider when they want to see you next, and — if you can — schedule your next appointment before you leave the office.
Schedule Your Annual Wellness Visit Today
Your annual wellness visit can be very routine from year to year, or it can be a chance for you to connect with your primary care provider and learn something new about your health.
By asking questions, you can help your PCP understand what kinds of health issues are concerning you, if anything has changed in the past year, and what your health goals are for the year ahead.
Whether it’s been 12 months or 12 years since the last time you saw a primary care provider, you can always schedule a wellness visit and put your health first.
Schedule your annual wellness visit today by finding your primary care provider online or by calling 610-431-5000.