Get ready for your next annual check up

Regular checkups with your primary care physician are essential to your health but it can be difficult to know what you should update them on or how to talk to them about certain topics. Dr. Ryan Thomas, a primary care doctor and assistant professor in the section of internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, shares some tips for patients to help build a better rapport with their healthcare providers and some ways people can prepare for their annual physical.

A doctor holding a clipboard seated next to a patient. Both are viewed from the neck down.Q: How can patients build a better rapport with their physician?  

A: Like any interpersonal relationship, rapport is gained over time but is firstly based on a good foundation. It is important for patients to choose a physician with whom they find a connection and one who can best carry out their respective expectations and goals. This can be different for everyone, so open communication is key. The first visit with any member of the care team should include goal setting to make sure this partnership grows in the right direction.

Q: What are some ways that people can prepare for their annual visit? What things should you make sure you mention to your doctor? Anything you should specifically ask about?   

A: A good annual visit is very involved and is the best way to make sure that we have a good baseline and reassurance for any problems that may arise throughout the year. The focus will be on preventive care in these visits, so a look at age-appropriate cancer screenings, vaccinations and overall best practices to further care will be addressed. An updated vaccination history is helpful and, if applicable based on age and gender, knowing dates and results of routine pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies can really help make this a seamless visit. It would be important to mention any big updates in family health history, like cancers, stroke and heart disease.

Q: How do you recommend talking to your doctor about sensitive issues (like depression, sexuality, problems with family, alcohol, etc.)?  

A: This situation can cause a lot of anxiety for any individual as it is normal to fear that such topics will be met with judgment and criticism. However, first and foremost, remember that your doctor is here to help, and they can’t do that if they don’t know what is going on. The relationship between a patient and their physician is confidential, and patients can trust that there are few topics that actually surprise most individuals in healthcare. Often, there are a number of resources and treatment options that are much simpler and more available than patients realize. So just tell us!

Learn more about Baylor Medicine Internal Medicine.

By Anna Kiappes

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