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August 3, 2018

Improving your health, one physical at a time

By uclahealth

Illustration by Sean Noyce

As kids, most of us saw a doctor every year for a physical. But come early adulthood? Not so much. While young women often look to an OB/GYN to handle general and reproductive health questions, young men often avoid doctors visits entirely until an illness or injury crops up that requires immediate attention. Years can pass without having a regular checkup. But here at UCLA Health we want to change that, and the first step is finding a primary care physician.

Why primary care?

Primary care physicians, or PCPs, are trained to diagnose and treat patients with a broad range of medical issues, from non-serious illnesses to complicated, chronic conditions.

But just as important as the conditions they treat are the relationships PCPs form with their patients. Your PCP will get to know your medical history and also learn who you are—where you live and work, what you eat, how much you exercise and what you do to manage stress.

This deep understanding allows PCPs to explain medical information in a way that makes sense to you, and to involve you in your medical care so that you achieve your personal health goals.

I’m healthy. Do I really need a physical?

Yes. A wellness visit is the perfect time to review preventive health items that can keep you healthier, longer. These include vaccines for the flu and shingles; cancer screenings for breast and colorectal cancer; and disease screenings for diabetes and HIV.

A wellness visit is also the perfect time to strengthen your relationship with your doctor so that if you get sick, injured or have a health concern, you know where to go and have someone who understands your baseline health.

Your primary care physician will ensure that you receive coordinated personalized and comprehensive care; help you navigate UCLA Health; and connect you to the appropriate specialists and services when you need them. They’re a vital member of your healthcare team.

What types of doctors provide primary care?

The following types of doctors are considered primary care physicians:

  • Internal medicine physicians, or internists, see adults
  • Pediatricians see kids
  • Med-peds physicians, who are board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, see patients of all ages
  • Geriatricians see elderly patients
  • Family medicine physicians see patients of all ages, and can take care of your entire extended family

In addition, some OB/GYNs provide wellness care for healthy young women.

Choosing the primary care physician that's right for you—and the primary care physician that's right for your children or other family members—often comes down to finding someone located close to where you live or work and personal preference.

How do I find a PCP and schedule a well visit?

Call 1-800-UCLA-MD1 and a patient representative will help find a PCP who meets your needs. We have more than 40 primary care offices, most of which offer same-day appointments for new and existing patients. You can also look for a primary care physician, and read physician bios, at uclahealth.org/providers.

Entertainment Industry Medical Group members should follow a slightly different protocol, and first locate the health center closest to where they live or work by visiting uclahealth.org/EIMG or calling 1-800-876-8320. A representative can then help them find an in-network PCP who meets their needs, and schedule their first visit.

View a complete list of our primary care offices at uclahealth.org/primary-care.

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This story ran in the Summer 2018 issue of The Checkup, a UCLA Health community newsletter on how to live your healthiest life.

Tags: annual physical, Family Medicine, geriatrics, Healthy Living, pcp, pediatrics, Pediatrics, prevention, preventive care, Primary Care, primary care, primary care physician, The Checkup, UCLA OB/GYN, wellness, Wellness

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