What is a physical?
The end of the year is quickly approaching which means it’s time to get around to all of the things you’ve been leaving until the end of the year, like visiting your provider for your annual physical. Annual adult physicals are an essential part of establishing a trusting doctor-patient relationship with your primary care physician (PCP) at Village Health Partners! These preventive health evaluations help your provider get to know you by giving them an overall picture of your health. Here’s what you need to know for your physical.
Are you curious about what in-office visits look like right now? Learn more here.
What to bring
You’ll discuss a lot with your physician when you come in, so here are some things you might want to bring (or if you already know these things, that works, too!) so you’re prepared for any questions they may ask.
- A face mask – Help us protect everyone and prevent the spread of COVID-19. All team members and patients are required to wear face masks to keep everyone safe.
- Current medications – bringing medication bottles is preferred, but you can also make a list! Be sure to include the prescription name, dosage and how often you take it.
- Past medical history
- Surgical history
- List of specialists you have seen within the last two years
What is included?
When you come in for your annual physical, a medical assistant will take your vitals and ask you questions about your medical history as well as your social history – drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and smoking history. Your physician may ask you many of the same questions when you meet with them. While you may also have a lot of questions or symptoms, we recommend focusing on two or three of your most important issues so your physician can fully focus on these and get them addressed.
After going over your health history, your physician will conduct a head-to-toe physical exam. Your physician may also conduct a breast and pelvic exam for female patients and a prostate and genital exam for male patients if indicated.
If you have already completed your blood work, your physician will go over the results of your blood tests. If you haven’t, you can visit a lab conveniently located in the same building as your Village Health Partners locations! Your blood work tests for many things, including:
- Complete blood count – measures your red and white blood cells
- Comprehensive metabolic panel – measures kidney and liver functions as well as electrolytes and sugar levels
- Lipid panel – tests for cholesterol levels and good and bad fats
- Thyroid panel – checks thyroid function
- Hemoglobin A1C – tests your blood sugar level for the prior three months
For women, annual physicals can include a breast cancer screening or a pap smear (a procedure that screens for cervical cancer), depending on your age. While you may be apprehensive about pap smears, Village Health Partners tries to make it as easy, quick and comfortable as possible by using a plastic speculum, lubricant, a light and a cell brush to test for precancerous cells in the cervix, and your physician can talk you through the whole process. If you need an HPV test, it can be performed from the same cells collected during this procedure, so you don’t have to take any extra steps! Your physician will also do a bimanual exam to feel for abnormalities in ovaries.
For men 50 years and older, physicians may complete a screening for prostate cancer. Depending on your physician and your symptoms, this may be done through a digital rectal exam or a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test.
Make sure before you leave that you have access to your patient portal! This is the easiest way to communicate with your physician outside of the exam room. Your provider can send you messages about your results or if they want you to come in for a follow-up visit.
Schedule your annual physical with your family practice physician before your benefits expire at the end of the year! Click below to schedule.