Updated: Oct 1, 2021
by Fidelia Tanyi, MSN, CMSRN, CRNP, University of Maryland Baltimore-Washington Medical Center
There is a simple formula to put each of us on the path to best health. You might expect me to say eating healthfully, getting plenty of sleep, and getting enough exercise. True, they are very important and you should be doing them, but there are three other possibly more important priorities that each of us should have. We all should have a primary care provider, make and keep all of our healthcare appointments, and consistently take our medications as prescribed.
Having a primary care provider that you see regularly to monitor your health should be a priority. I don't just say that because I am a primary care provider. I say that because getting regular check-ups and coming in for unusual symptoms can actually keep you healthy or spot illnesses before they get worse. Your primary care provider is your partner in health and can help you find out if your lifestyle is working or not working for your best health.
If you already have a chronic condition, it is critical to see your healthcare provider regularly to know if your treatment is working or if you need to make some adjustments. Additionally, your primary care provider should be a resource when you are having strange symptoms or your symptoms are getting worse.
If you don't have a primary care provider, finding one can be easy. Check with your health insurance company or log on to umbwmc.org and use our convenient Find-A-Doc search tool. Even if you don't have insurance, you can still get the care you need. Just ask! And speaking of the care you need, many health care providers offer virtual and telemedicine visits that allow you to consult with your provider without leaving the comfort of your own home.
In addition to having a primary care provider, if you have any kind of illness – acute or chronic – you should make sure to make and keep your doctor's appointments. Preventive medicine is extremely important, as I've already mentioned. If you are sick, your primary care provider can help you get better faster or can refer you to a specialist.
Skipping appointments can counteract any progress you have made, or can prevent the discovery of a serious problem.
If you often forget about your appointments, make sure you write them down in the same place every time. Most smart phones have calendars on them that will alert you when it is time for your visit, and there are always paper calendars to use. Just make sure to write the appointment in there every time. Additionally, almost all doctor's offices give reminder calls a day or two before. Make sure you note the day and time and that you can get there.
Some people need to rely on family and friends to get them to appointments. If this is the case, make sure to find out when your ride is available and schedule your appointments around them. If you don't have a ride to see your doctor, try contacting the office to see if they have a ride service or consider using Uber or Lyft. They are safe and convenient. There may also be community resources that can help provide a ride for you. The most important thing is to not miss that appointment!
Medications are also extremely important, whether it be for a chronic condition or just antibiotics for an infection. Always take your medications as prescribed. That means take them on time, as often as your doctor tells you to, the amount your doctor tells you to, and how you are instructed.
Sometimes you need to take medications on an empty stomach, sometimes with food, or ven avoid certain foods. Ask your doctor to explain when they prescribe it to you and always read the labels that come on the pill bottles. If you take a lot of medications, use a pill box labeled with each day and time you should take them, so you don't forget any or take too many. If you are confused or forget a dose, ask the pharmacist what to do or give your doctor's office a call.
Sometimes seeing many doctors and having lots of medications might be confusing. Your primary care provider can help you keep everything straight. Make sure they know every single medication you are on and how much you are taking. This will prevent adverse reactions and keep you safe.
If you can't afford your medications, ask your pharmacist or doctor for options. There are many programs that allow patients to get prescriptions at discounted rates or even free. If your provider is prescribing a new medication, ask about cost, whether your insurance will cover it, and if there is a generic version that you can take.
Following these guidelines will help get you or keep you on a path to your best health. ********** Fidelia Tanyi, CRNP is a Family Nurse Practitioner associated with the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. She can be reached at 410-553-2900 for appointments at all locations..
--University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center Press Release