Unless you are a medical professional, we bet you’ve headed into your doctor’s office for an annual physical with a head full of concerns, only to walk out with none of your questions answered. It’s an all-too-common occurrence and one that may not necessarily be your or your doc’s fault.

You see, while most annual physicals cover the same ground from physician to physician, overworked doctors may not automatically think to look into more in-depth issues, especially if you are a new patient. Styles also vary from office to office, which can leave you wondering whether or not you could have a hidden, looming health problem.

To combat this, we found some brilliant advice from someone who has plenty to say on the issue of physicals, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. In today’s clip, she drops some serious knowledge on how to get the most out of this important annual visit.

It’s all about preparation

Perhaps not surprisingly, the first steps that you’ll need to take happen BEFORE your appointment. Dr. Steinbaum suggests taking some time in the days and weeks prior to your visit to write down any and all of the concerns and questions that you may have.

Not only will this exercise organize your thoughts, it will also help give your physician subjects on which to focus during your visit.

Since blood work is always a central part of the annual physical experience, put in a request for your blood to be examined in the weeks leading up to your appointment—that way you and your doc can have an in-person conversation about your results at the time of your examination.

Makes sense!

doctor speaking with a patientNational Cancer Institute via Wikimedia Commons

What should be checked

Now that you know how to best prepare for your annual physical, let’s talk about what you should expect.

According to Dr. Steinbaum, the first things that your physician should assess is whether or not your blood pressure is too high or too low, how your height compares to your BMI, as well as a host of different blood tests, including a cholesterol panel, y blood sugar levels, and hs-CRP for inflammation.

Unless you have a spotless medical history and pristine genes, you may need further tests done, even if you feel like you are in tip-top shape.

To ensure that your doctor is focusing on the right areas, be sure that they are fully aware of any legitimate medical struggles that you or your family has endured. If you are not entirely sure, ask around to your immediate family prior to your visit, and definitely let your doctor know if anything has changed since he or she last saw you.

Seems like some pretty sound advice to us! To get even more helpful tips on what tests you may want to skip during your next physical, be sure to watch the video below.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things physicals! Do you feel that both you and your doc communicate well together? Have you ever requested blood tests ahead of time? Are you a doctor or a nurse who would like to add something to this list?