Source: Best Health magazine, September 2015
Physical exams are key to maintaining overall health, especially as we age. Ann Alsaffar, nurse practitioner and director of nursing at the St. Laurent Medical Centre in Ottawa, shares tips on how to maximize the appointment.
Why should I make time for an annual checkup?
Although our bodies are built to last, we have to take care of them and respect them. Women should be coming in for a checkup annually, even if nothing is wrong. If we only see patients when they’re sick or ill, we have no baseline for health. Physicals and checkups are a way of touching base and fostering your doctor/patients relationship.
How should I prepare for a physical?
If you’re new to a physician, prepare this checklist:
‘ family medical history
‘ smoking history
‘ types and number of surgeries
‘ list of medications, immunizations and allergies
Otherwise, make a note of life changes or events that have happened since your last visit that may impact your overall health or well-being. Also, advocate for yourself: Inquire about specific tests for your age group or circumstances. For instance, if you’ve had a clean Pap test for three years in a row, then you can switch over to a three-year plan. Also, when you turn 50, you should discuss screening for colon and breast cancer, and a baseline EKG.
How can I maximize my nurse relationship?
Feel free to check in with your nurse if you need help understanding things your doctor has discussed with you. For example, nurses are a great resource to help you understand new medications and their side effects. Also, you may feel less rushed, or more able to express your general concerns to a nurse, so ask for a few minutes of their time before or after your physical with the doctor. Finally, you should note that you can ask a female nurse to be present during a pelvic exam with a male doctor.
Nurses, like doctors, are available to help with your concerns. Your health and wellness is our top priority.