Why Bother with a Complete Physical?

Many people see medical care as a necessity only when they are sick. While it is true that physicians are trained to treat a broad range of illness and infirmity, the savvy individual realizes that the best medical care also places a heavy emphasis on prevention. Providing care when someone is well increases their odds of staying healthy. Too often this important aspect of medicine is frequently overlooked by the general public and even by many physicians themselves.

This wellness approach to medicine centers around a regular preventative exam. A trained physician who performs a rigorous complete physical can often detect and treat a potential health problem such as developing cancer or heart disease before significant disability or even death occurs. Equally important is the time used during the appointment to answer questions and to provide the patient with current medical recommendations on how to maintain health, including nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications.

A thorough adult physical usually takes between 60-90 minutes and is typically performed every 1-3 years, while a well child exam ranges between 20-45 minutes and occurs every 2-12 months. The physician will usually spend the majority of time during the physical asking health related questions, which includes a review of family history, inquiry on current medications and supplements taken, and a discussion of past illnesses, hospitalizations, and surgeries. The visit then moves to an age and gender specific exam, and laboratory and/or imaging tests may be recommended. Together, the physician and patient come up with a plan that is designed to optimize the patient’s health. Ultimately, this preventative approach saves time and money, since staying healthier reduces medical visits and its associated costs in the future.

Schedule your complete physical today, and be proactive with your health.

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Richard R. Samuel, MD, ABFP

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