Six Doctor Appointments—Beyond Your Annual Physical—That You're Forgetting to Make at the Top of the New Year
As we continue to settle into this new year, many of us are wondering what we can do to kick things off on the right foot. Prioritizing your health is a great place to start—something that can be as simple as making a phone call to your primary care doctor. "People over the age of 40 should visit their primary annually, as should any adult who has a concerning medical family history," explains Dr. Leonard Pianko, MD, a board-certified physician of internal medicine and cardiologist. If you don't already have a general practitioner, use this fresh start and begin your search. Ahead, a few more doctors experts say you should check in with at the dawn of a new year.
A yearly checkup with your dermatologist (every other year can work, too, depending on your personal needs), suggests Dr. Hayley Goldbach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon affiliated with Brown University. "Skin cancer is on the rise—even in young people. I have seen so many patients who thought they had 'just a pimple' that turned out to be skin cancer," she says.
It might not be one of your favorite appointments, but scheduling a session (or two, which most dental plans cover annually) with your dentist is key; Dr. Pianko says staying on top of your dental health will help you feel (and look!) your best. "A visit to the dentist every six months for a cleaning and oral exam is recommended for both adults and children alike," he notes.
If you are 40 or over, consider adding a visiting a radiologist to your to-do list. "Starting at age 40, women can consider a screening mammogram," Dr. Goldbach notes, adding that. "Not every organization recommends beginning that early—the United States Preventative Task Force (USPSTF) recommends starting at age 50, for example—so it's best to have a conversation with your doctor about your risks and benefits of early screening."
For females of all ages, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a yearly "well-woman" visit with your OBGYN. "It's important to check in with your OBGYN to discuss your pelvic health and perform any necessary screenings," notes Dr. Goldbach.
The American Cancer Society recently changed its colonoscopy recommendation: Starting at age 45 (not 50!), individuals with average risk should be screen for colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of this disease, your primary care physician might tell you to have yours earlier—and if you haven't yet had your first and are past that birthday benchmark (or if it's been a decade since your last), it's time to schedule one stat.
Mental Health Professional
After a difficult two years, almost everyone could benefit from scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional, even if you aren't working through a traumatic life event. Waiting lists, however, are long; starting early in your search, note our experts, gives you a better chance of connecting with someone you click with and allows you to set a baseline for more serious issues that may arise down the the line.