You may only see your primary care provider (PCP) 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 important questions you should ask your family medicine or internal medicine provider during your checkup. Bring a notepad and pen or your phone so you can jot down his or her responses.

Search providers and schedule an appointment online, or call 1-800-533-8762.

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Questions to Ask Your Provider During Your Checkup

What screenings or tests do I need?

Your PCP 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 screenings, including thyroid testsmammograms for women and men, and prostate exams for men,” says Kristina Azar, DO, a family medicine physician at Franklin Park Family Practice–UPMC in Wexford.

How’s my weight?

Your PCP 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.

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

If you have concerns about your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, or another challenge that can be partly managed through lifestyle approaches, ask your doctor what you should be doing. Be honest about your diet so your provider can recommend healthier options.

Lori Bigi, MD, an internal medicine physician at Northern Medical Associates–UPMC in Sewickley, suggests you should “eat a diet that consists of 80% whole plant foods and limit sodium and alcohol.”

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 provider 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.

How can I sleep better?

We all know the importance of getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, but sometimes it may feel impossible to get enough sleep. Ask your doctor about different options to help sleep soundly, whether it be through medications or other measures.

Dr. Bigi suggests practicing meditation and reading books about insomnia. Books she recommends include The Insomnia Answer by Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman, and Quiet Your Mind & Get to Sleep by Rachel Manber and Colleen E. Carney.

How can I learn more about my health?

Health information found online can be fraught with inaccuracy. Don’t expect to diagnose or treat yourself based on your findings. Do ask your doctor if he or she recommends any specific resources.

What should I do before my next visit?

Rather than seeing doctor appointments as isolated moments in time, try to view them as goalposts or milestones. Ask your PCP 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.

When do I need to see my doctor again?

Don’t assume you need to wait a year or longer to see your provider again. Ask if he or she recommends a follow-up visit. Your doctor may even offer virtual video visits.

“Video visits are a great way to follow-up on issues that don’t require a physical exam,” Dr. Bigi says.

Search providers and schedule an appointment online or by calling 1-800-533-8762.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Primary Care

The relationship with a patient and their primary care doctor can be extremely valuable, and that’s what you get with UPMC Primary Care. When you work with a primary care physician (PCP), you develop a lasting relationship. Your doctor will get to know you and your history and can plan your treatments accordingly. Our PCPs offer a variety of services, including preventive care and treatment for both urgent and chronic conditions. With dozens of UPMC Primary Care locations across our network of care, you can find a PCP close to you. Schedule an appointment today.