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A Little History on the Annual Physical

Do You Get an Annual Physical?

Way back in the 1920s the American Medical Association began recommending annual physicals: a yearly check-in with your doctor for some basic medical screenings. In that same decade the US Public Health Association launched a nationwide campaign promoting the physical, which was part of the early stages of institutionalized preventative medicine. The slogan was simple: "Have a Health Examination on Your Birthday." But is what was common practice still the status quo? From my arm chair, it seems the physical exam has gone out of fashion as insurance and medical rates have sky rocketed and the modern woman's free time has shrunk. Many women see a gynecologist annually, so why bother with a primary care physician too?

In theory, I feel a physical is great idea — thinking it's a good time to build some rapport with your doc. Should something dire happen in the future it would be nice to feel like you had a relationship with him or her. In practice, I tend to skip them — I am not saying this a good thing or that it's recommended. This is simply another way of dealing with the ever-shrinking amount of free time. I just tend to go to see my physician when I am sick. What about you?

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Join The Conversation
amber512 amber512 6 years
I did when I was younger. But I just recently got health insurance again. I have been to the doctor to try and chip away at all of the problems I want to talk about, but so far no answers.
Jenny-C Jenny-C 6 years
I had a physical last year and the medical practice is part of a woman's center that part of the hospital so they do your gynecological stuff at the same time. Anywho, my doctor told me that I don't need to have a physical every year, that I can have one physical every three years. I'm about to turn 30 so maybe after a certain age, it goes back to yearly. Also, my dentist told me I don't have to floss as much. I'm so confused!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
"Have a Health Examination on Your Birthday." Wow, that sounds terrible! I go to a primary care physician annually, but would never go on my birthday!
Vanonymous Vanonymous 6 years
Just had my annual this week. I have had a number of pretty bad health insurance plans (including the one I have now), but the annual visit has always been no charge. However, as far as building a rapport goes, my doctor constantly bumps my annuals b/c they're just annuals (not actual problems/issues) and this time I got a call the day before saying I was meeting with her nurse practitioner instead. I was OK with it b/c I don't have any concerns and was just going out of practice - but I don't think it's good practice for a doctor to do that almost every year. I think annuals are important though b/c they check your cholesterol, update family history, etc.
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