Talk freely with your PCP

Physician speaking with patient

Having a primary care provider (PCP), is a key part of living a healthy life. He or she can focus on your total health and work with other doctors to make sure you get the care you need. Although a PCP is often a doctor (MD or DO), he or she may also be a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician assistant (PA).

Your PCP keeps your medical records, which show your history of care. That means he or she knows when you get things like your flu shot, tests or if you’re taking medicines. That way, he or she can help you better when you're sick. It can also help your PCP work with you to stay healthy over time.

When you're sick or hurt

Be sure to talk to your PCP about any problems you have when you’re sick or hurt. That way, your PCP can give you the best care.¹ During your visit, he or she may ask you questions like:

  • When did you first feel or see signs you weren’t feeling well or were hurt?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had anything like this? 

It can be hard to remember things when you don’t feel well. If you need help, have a friend or family member go with you. Taking notes on what your PCP says can also help you make sure you know exactly what he or she wants you to do to take care of yourself.

Well exams

It’s good to see your PCP for well exams. A well exam is usually a yearly checkup with your PCP. He or she will check things like your blood pressure, weight and more. It’s also a chance for you to tell your PCP about your health since you last saw him or her.²

He or she would want to know things like:

  • Do you take any over-the-counter medicines, diet pills or vitamins?
  • Any changes in exercise or activities
  • If you had any falls or balance problems
  • If you went to the emergency room (ER), urgent care or to any specialists
  • Any problems with depression (being sad for a long time) or anxiety over life events (life events can be things like a loved one dying, losing a job, etc.)
  • If you got flu or pneumonia shots or any vaccines
  • Any issues with bladder control

Follow what your PCP asks you to do

Your PCP may have things that he or she will need you to do after your visit. So, before you leave, make sure you know:³

  • How to take any medicines
  • How long to take medicines
  • How to do any treatments
  • How long you will need to do any treatments
  • Go over all of your medicines to see if you still need them
  • How long before you should feel better
  • What to do if you don't feel better
  • When your next visit is
  • If you need lab tests or X-rays
  • If your PCP wants you to see a specialist 

Your PCP wants you stay healthy. Being able to talk openly with your PCP can help you stay healthy because you’re working together.4

Safety is the best medicine

Prescription medications can work wonders on your health. But you must take them correctly.

Read medication mistakes

Choose to be smoke-free

Know how to protect yourself and your family from secondhand smoke.

Read secondhand smoke dangers

Stay on schedule with your shots

Adults need vaccinations throughout their lifetimes. Know which you’re up to date on, which ones could use a booster, and those to avoid.

Read adult vaccinations