Whether you are changing providers, or it’s your first time back in a while, it can be a bit daunting to establish care with a new primary doctor. Here are a few things you can expect, and tips to help maximize your time with your new primary.
Your new doc will want to review your past medical and surgical history.
This will include what medications you are taking, including the dosage for each. If you don’t know this information off-hand (is it grams? or milligrams?), bring a list of what you take, or take a picture of the bottles with your phone that clearly shows the labels. It is also important to disclose any over the counter medications or supplements you are taking. If you have any allergies to medications, be sure to tell your doctor or the intake staff as this will need to be included in your medical record.
Try to find out your immediate family’s medical history; this will be something that your doctor will want to know.
Typically, information on parents and siblings is sufficient, but if you feel it relevant to include any extended family, you should share that as well.
You will be asked about your habits, including your workout routine, diet, substance use, sexual history and hobbies.
This allows your doc to get to know you better and to provide any recommendations for healthier living.
The doctor will want to know about any recent testing you have had.
This will include lab results along with age-appropriate screening tests (PAP smears, bone density scans, mammograms, colon cancer screening tests, vaccines, etc). If you can have the dates and results of these previous tests ready for your doctor that is great, but if you cannot get them, don’t worry – your doctor’s office can always request them from your previous providers. If you haven’t been to a doctor in a while, and don’t have any recent labs or test results, then good for you for getting back in!
Once your doctor has reviewed these items, it will be your turn to address any concerns you have that may have prompted you to make the appointment in the first place!
As you can see, there is a lot to cover, so don’t worry if your doctor asks you to schedule a follow-up appointment to address some of your concerns. Come prepared to prioritize and bring up the issues that are the most pressing first. The doctor may do an exam at this point, or this may be saved for your next visit.
That’s pretty much it! Hope that took some of the mystery out of the trip back to the doctor.
We are always happy to see a new face!
Hello! My name is Carrie Ward and I am a board-certified Internal Medicine MD and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. I am passionate about medicine and find fulfillment in the diversity of my work. I spend most of my time in the outpatient setting where I provide patient-focused comprehensive care to an adult population. Additionally, I enjoy mentoring future doctors from the medical school and spending time in the inpatient setting on the teaching service with the interns and residents. Finally, I am a mom of two-year-old twin boys. I have a true appreciation for the complexities of women’s health and how often it can take a back seat when life gets busy. I hope you might find the “Female Health Collective” a helpful resource to you; I am honored to be a part of it and hope you enjoy my contributions!