Young woman with headphones and skateboard

The Young Adult’s Guide to Doctor Visits

Young adulthood is the beginning of so many things. There’s often college and career and the plunge into more serious relationships. But the exciting aspects of growing up can overshadow the more mundane parts, one of which is health maintenance.

Preventive screenings, wellness exams and checkups are important at all ages. You take your car in for a checkup, why wouldn’t you do the same for your body, and mind?

But many of today’s young and healthy forgo doctor visits for other priorities. It’s a trend seen in a growing body of evidence. Young millennials and newly-minted adults of Generation Z feel overwhelmed by jam-packed schedules and the potential confusion and cost of the health care machine. Many of them are used to relying on their parents to schedule doctor appointments and figure out health plan coverage.

It’s hard to argue with the sometimes cumbersome and tedious parts, but developing health care wherewithal at a young age is critical. It can only benefit a person as they go through life. If you’re new to adulthood, consider the following a starting point and reference guide to help you take charge of your health.

Care all young adults should get

Annual checkup: Check-ins are critical to help prevent the development of major health issues. At a yearly visit, your primary care doctor will:

  • Answer any questions
  • Discuss diet and exercise habits, including smoking, drug and alcohol use
  • Discuss mental health issues, including stress and depression

The doctor may conduct blood and urine screenings, measure your blood pressure and check your weight.

Skin scan: It’s a good idea to meet annually with a dermatologist and have your skin examined head-to-toe. The doctor will take note of any concerning moles or spots and remove any that require treatment.

Dental visits: Oral health is key to staying healthy. Everyone, even people with little risk of cavities or gum disease, should see a dentist twice yearly for cleanings.

Women only

An annual visit to the gynecologist helps keep track of reproductive health. Doctors recommend women start to get routine tests like a pelvic exam and pap smear at age 21.

Men only

Your primary care physician may recommend that you visit a urologist annually to check your reproductive and prostate health.

Making primary care a priority

It’s also important to start developing a relationship with a primary care doctor as an early adult. Many of today’s young people aren’t regularly seeing one. Research finds that many millennials choose a retail health clinic or urgent care center to get a checkup or treat an illness.

Medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic stress the familiarity and continuity of care one gets from having a primary care doctor. Indeed, some would argue that the relationship you have with your primary care doctor is one of the most important you’ll ever have.

Though choosing a primary care doctor can be an overwhelming task, here are a few tips to make the decision-making process easier:

Do your research

When choosing a primary care doctor, first consider what you need and want. For instance, does he or she:

  • Accept your insurance?
  • Have a convenient office location?
  • Fluently speak your language?

Once you’ve narrowed your doctor search based on factors important to you, consider office and personal characteristics. Read reviews to get a better sense of how different doctors operate. While reviewing, think about:

  • What are some of the policies of the doctor’s office?
  • Do people wait long?
  • How does cancellation work?

Find out about the office’s use of technology. Chat with the office manager to find out how up-to-date the screening equipment is and what procedures doctors can perform on-site.

Once you’ve decided, the last step is notifying your insurance provider to update your plan.

Scheduling the appointment

The US Department of Health and Human Services offers a few helpful tips for when you’re ready to schedule a visit.

  • When you call to set up an appointment, let the office know if you’re a new patient. It may take a few weeks to get a checkup. If you’re sick, you may be able to see a doctor the same day.
  • Tell them the reason for your visit. Be specific. Are you scheduling a checkup? Looking for a new primary care doctor? Maybe you’re seeking help for depression? Or do you need treatment for flu-like symptoms or allergies?
  • Have your insurance information handy. Let the doctor’s office know the name of your health plan.
  • Find out what you should bring to the visit. This could include medical records or current medications.
  • If you’d like to see a certain doctor, make sure you know his or her name. You may have to wait longer to get a visit with this doctor. That’ll be your choice. The office may suggest an appointment with another doctor that’s available sooner.

Make your search for a primary care physician easier by using our Find a Doctor tool.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Photo credit: Merlas

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *