A good primary care physician manages all aspects of your health care, from routine screening, identifying and addressing health risks to diagnosing and treating illnesses. Your relationship with your primary care physician can span decades.
In addition to providing advice about wellness issues such as the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and making and adopting other healthy life-style habits, your doctor can recommend which screening tests you need to prevent or identify disease. All of this can be accomplished at your annual wellness visit at the primary care practices within the Saint Peter’s Physician Associates (SPPA) network. The network, part of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, also provides access to specialists in areas such as breast health, endocrinology, rheumatology, general and vascular surgery.
“With the coordination and guidance of your primary care physician, you can access a wide spectrum of health services such preventive care and the management of chronic condition,” says Carmen Tadros, MD, of several Saint Peter’s Physician Associates primary care physicians who sees patients on Veronica Avenue in the Somerset section of Franklin. “Regularly visiting your primary care physician helps you to live a healthy life.”
At least once a year you should schedule a wellness visit with your primary healthcare provider.
Below are some tips for preparing for your annual visit with your Primary Care Doctor:
Write down your questions in advance.
Bring the list with you. This ensures that you don’t forget to mention something important.
Bring a digital recorder. This might help you to keep track of important things. However, you must ask your doctor if it’s okay to record the visit. It can be helpful to go back and listen again to the doctor’s recommendations when you have time to think more clearly.
Bring someone with you. You can ask a loved one to sit in on the visit with you. Your friend or relative can serve as an advocate. He/she may have questions or observations that can help you get the best medical care. Bring your health records.
Bring copies of your personal health records. This is important if this is your first visit or if it’s been a while since you saw this doctor. Let your doctor know about any other health-care providers you see. You might also want to bring information about the health of your close family members. Certain diseases and conditions run in families.
Bring a list of your medications and supplements. Let your doctor know what medicines you take each day. Make sure to include vitamins, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, teas, supplements, and prescription medications from all doctors you see. If it’s too much for you to write down, bring them all in a paper bag to show your doctor.
Talk about any changes you’re experiencing. Mention any new sensations, signs, or symptoms that you’ve been having. You should also bring up any significant changes in your life, such as the death of a loved one, retirement, or a change in lifestyle. These might have an impact on your health. Even difficult topics, such as changes in bathroom habits, can and should be discussed with your doctor.
Ask about your numbers. This is a good time to check up on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, weight, body mass index, heart rate, and any other “numbers” that your doctor has been watching. Ask what you need to do to keep these measurements in healthy ranges.
Ask about screenings. Certain health screenings, such as those for the prostate, breast, and colon, are recommended for older adults. If your doctor doesn’t mention them, ask whether you should be screened during this visit or in the next few years.
Get needed immunizations. You should be vaccinated against the flu and whooping cough, or pertussis. Your doctor also may recommend the shingles and pneumonia vaccines. Ask about what other immunizations you may need.
Saint Peter’s Physician Associates has primary care practices located throughout the area. For more information about our primary care physicians, call 732-339-7717 or visit SPPANJ.com.