It’s time for your yearly check-up (sometimes called annual exam). It might seem strange to visit your primary care provider (PCP) when you’re not sick, but having a yearly check-up is important to prevent illnesses.
Getting Ready: If this is your first time meeting with your primary care provider, plan on getting to your appointment at least 15 minutes early to fill out the paperwork and insurance information.
Plan to bring:
- A copy of your immunization record (a list of all of the vaccines you’ve had to date)
- A list of all the medicines you take (include prescription and any over-the-counter medicine, herbs, and vitamin supplements)
- Your health insurance card
- Co-payment (if required)
Checking-In: After you check in with a staff member, you’ll likely be asked to fill out a health form. In fact, each time you have a visit, you’ll be asked to update your health history. Be sure to include anything new about your health since your last visit. For example: any sports injuries, changes in any medicine, or any recent procedures you’ve had.
Be sure to give your PCP your current phone number or the best number to reach you or check if they have a patient website for test results. This way your PCP will be able to get in touch with you with test results, etc.
After you’ve finished the form, a clinical assistant will check your vital signs: blood pressure, pulse, height, and weight. You may be asked to pee into a cup so your urine can be checked for possible signs of infection. This is NOT a drug test. A pregnancy test may be done if you are late for your period.
Privacy: Your primary care provider likely has a privacy or confidentiality policy. If your PCP doesn’t bring it up, ask what the policy is for teen patients. Your PCP should give you time to talk with her/him without your parents. If you’re 18 or older, you’ll meet with your PCP alone. If you’re under 18, you and your parent(s) or guardian will likely meet your PCP together at the beginning of the visit. Your PCP will talk about general information such as your health history and your family’s health history. Next your parent or guardian will be asked to leave the room so you can talk to your PCP alone. Issues about home life, school and activities, nutrition, smoking and drug use, sexual health, and birth control are usually discussed privately, without your parents. At the end of the visit, your parent or guardian may be invited to come back into the exam room, but your PCP should not share confidential information unless he/she has concerns about your safety.
The physical exam: This part takes only a few minutes but you should feel as comfortable as possible during the exam. You can have a family member or chaperone in the exam room during your physical exam. During the exam, your PCP will ask you questions, and you should ask questions too. Your PCP will be checking to make sure that your skin, eyes, ears, mouth neck, heart lungs, breasts, stomach, spine, genital area, joints, and muscles are all healthy. This only takes a few minutes.
After the exam: After the exam is over, your PCP will tell you about any concerns he/she may have, what you need to do to stay healthy and any immunizations you may need now or at a future appointment. If you need a physical form signed for sports or work, or any medication refills, make sure to let your PCP know before you leave the office.