What to Ask Your Doctor

You may only see your primary care physician once a year — so you’ve got to make that time count.

The best way to do this is to show up prepared. Here are several important questions you should ask your doctor during your annual wellness visit. Bring a notepad and pen so you can jot down his or her responses.

For more information, or to find primary care doctors, visit www.UPMC.com/PCP or call 1-855-676-UPMCPCP.

Ask these questions when you go to your primary care doctor

Questions to Ask Your Doctor During Your Checkup

  1. What screening tests do I need?

Your doctor may recommend certain tests during an annual exam, such as those used to test your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“But you may want to ask about the need for other risk-appropriate screening tests, including thyroid tests, mammograms (for women and men), and prostate exams (for men),” said Kristina Marie Rahnamay-Azar, DO, Franklin Park Family Practice-UPMC.

  1. How’s my weight?

Your doctor can tell you how your specific weight can affect your health and risk of disease. If you need to shed some pounds, he or she can also suggest healthy ways to do so.

  1. What should — and shouldn’t — I be eating?

If you struggle with your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, or another problem that can be partly managed through lifestyle approaches, ask your doctor what you should or could be doing. Be honest about your diet so you can get recommendations for healthier options.

  1. What do I need to know about this treatment?

If your doctor prescribes a medication or another type of treatment, it’s important to know what to expect. Your doctor can tell you why he or she is recommending the treatment and inform you about any side effects, risks, and benefits.

If you have questions about medications you’re already taking, make sure to ask about those as well.

  1. How can I learn more about my health?

The lure of the Internet is strong, but searching for health information online can be fraught with misinformation. Don’t expect to diagnose or treat yourself based on your findings, but do ask your doctor if he or she recommends any specific resources, whether online or elsewhere.

  1. What should I do before my next visit?

Rather than seeing doctor appointments as isolated moments in time, try to view them as goal posts or milestones. Ask your doctor what you can work on before your next appointment, whether that means losing weight, keeping your cholesterol levels down, or exercising more. That way, you’ll have the right guidance on what you should be doing in the meantime.

  1. When do I need to see the doctor again?

Don’t assume you need to wait a year or longer to see your doctor again. Ask if he or she recommends a follow-up visit.

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A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.