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Do I need to see my doctor when I’m not sick?

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

Answers from Dr. Marshelya Wilson

Dr. Marshelya Wilson, ParTNers Center Medical Director

I often get asked the two questions above. Both are great questions.

The short answers are: Yes, you do! and It depends on your age. Let me explain.

Naturally, we may see our doctor when we’re sick. But why should we see him or her when we’re not? An annual health exam — yes, once a year! — accomplishes many things:

  • It provides your doctor or nurse practitioner (NP) with a snapshot of your overall health.

  • It helps identify any health problems you might be at risk for.

  • It also helps you establish a relationship with your doctor or NP, so if a problem does arise, he or she understands your health history.

During your annual health exam, your provider will ask about your family members’ medical history. For example, did anyone have high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer? This helps determine if you might be at risk. Your provider may ask about your lifestyle, like your exercise and eating habits and tobacco or alcohol use. He or she will also counsel you on any preventive screenings you might need, based on your age or health risks. Preventive screenings are usually done after your provider recommends a screening plan for you and answers any questions you may have.

Below are some general guidelines for getting preventive screenings and frequency recommendations for some. These are only guidelines. You and your doctor or NP may decide on a different screening plan based on your personal needs.

Ages 21-49

  • Blood pressure screening

  • Sexually transmitted infection screening

  • Cervical cancer screening (every 3-5 years)

  • Breast cancer screening (talk to your provider)

  • Cholesterol screening

  • Diabetes screening

Ages 50-64 (includes all of the above)
  • Colorectal cancer screening (starting at age 50)

  • Breast cancer screening (every other year starting at age 50)

  • Prostate cancer screening

Ages 65 and older (includes all of the above)
  • Osteoporosis screening (start earlier if at high risk)

  • Prostate cancer screening

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine (through age 26)

  • Flu vaccine (every year)

  • Td or Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) (generally every 10 years)

  • Shingles vaccine (herpes zoster) (starting at age 60)

  • Pneumonia vaccine (starting at age 65)

All the staff at the ParTNers Center wish you a healthy, productive 2019. We encourage you to start the year off right by scheduling your annual health exam. Call us at 615-741-1709 to make an appointment. We’re here to answer any screening questions you have and connect you with the most appropriate providers.

Invest in your health!


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