As parents, we have tons of responsibilities. There’s work, household chores, bath time, grocery shopping, making dinner . . . I could go on and on and on. Our jobs never end and there are no days off. We always have to be on top of our game and ready to take on anything our lives or kiddos throw at us (sometimes what they literally throw at us).
I feel one of the MOST important things on this list of responsibilities needs to be taking care of ourselves. I don’t just mean trying to eat as healthily as we can or trying to fit in some form of exercise a few times a week. I’m talking about seeing a primary care physician (PCP) regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the doctor every week or every other month, but just go once a year for a full head-to-toe history and physical (H&P).
How many of you actually have a PCP?
I was totally guilty of not having a PCP before I had my kiddos. I went to STAT care if I thought I really needed to be seen or just went to the campus nurse when I was a student in college. I thought going to see my GYN for my yearly appointment was sufficient. It wasn’t until I graduated, got married, got my own job, and my own health insurance that I really made an effort to find my own PCP and go for a yearly exam. Luckily, my husband agrees and never put up a fight about also going.
For most insurances, an annual H&P with blood work is covered. It’s considered “preventive” care and encouraged – so take advantage of it!! So many insurances also cover the yearly GYN visit and dentist appointments (these are so important too!!). Even if your insurance doesn’t cover it 100%, I’m sure a good chunk will be covered – you won’t regret looking into it.
It’s so comforting to be familiar with your doctors and to know that if there ever is an illness/problem/question (of course we hope there never is) you will know exactly who to call. Sometimes it’s tough finding a doctor in the beginning. Some won’t accept new patients, there’s new patient paperwork to be completed, and not all doctors are covered under every insurance company. Imagine having to go through all that when you really do have a problem and need to be seen. Find a doctor you like now while you’re healthy! Then, make it a point to see that doctor every year. What have you got to lose?
If you’re still not convinced, think about those little kiddos or grand kiddos. Think about your nieces and nephews. Think about your loved ones who really care about you and your family. Do it for those people. Those people need you, love you, and don’t want anything to happen to you. You owe it to them to be responsible about your health – see a doctor!
If you already are known to a doctor – great for you! Does everyone in your family go too – your spouse, your parents, and your siblings? You love and care about them too, right? Encourage them to do the same. It took a lot of convincing, but my husband and I had this discussion with our parents. We told them it was very important to us, especially since we were starting our own family. We want them to be around to love and care about our kids the way they did for us. Now, all 4 of them see a primary care physician regularly!! It’s a peace of mind for everybody, and didn’t cause any pain or suffering. It starts with a simple phone call.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine refers to MedlinePlus and here they list several things to consider when choosing a PCP:
- “Is the office staff friendly and helpful? Is the office good about returning calls?
- Are the office hours convenient to your schedule?
- How easy is it to reach the provider? Does the provider use email?
- Do you prefer a provider whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?
- Do you prefer a provider focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention?
- Does the provider have a conservative or aggressive approach to treatment?
- Does the provider order a lot of tests?
- Does the provider refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently?
- What do colleagues and patients say about the provider?
- Does the provider invite you to be involved in your care? Does the provider view your patient-doctor relationship as a true partnership?”
I know I’m probably adding to your already lengthy to-do list, but I promise this is one of the most important things you can do for your own well-being and your family. You won’t regret it and they will be proud of you for doing it!