"I feel fine."
"I don't want to waste my time OR my doctor's time."
"Why do I have to go see my doctor if I don't have any problems?"
As a Registered Nurse, I hear those types of statements regularly. People are much more time and cost conscious now than they may have ever have been. They don't want to use their time, or someone else's time, unwisely. The costs of the health care system are in the news almost daily and no one wants to waste that valuable resource either. They often don't want to use resources they think "other people need more than they do". We get trapped in a thought process which allows us to think "I'm not that far gone". However, seeing your family doctor yearly (or more often if you have known health concerns) could prevent or delay some major health problems.
Health changes frequently sneak up on us. Sometimes the changes are so small, we don't even notice a change in our health at all. We barely even notice those small changes in our health until they start to affect our ability to do the things important to us.
Your doctor is frequently the first person you see when it comes to fixing a health problem, but as my dear dad (a retired millwright) tells me – "it's easier and cheaper to prevent a problem, than to fix one." Being aware of your risks for health problems and acting to prevent health problems could keep you from having to face a life-changing disease.
In Alberta, family doctors and primary health care teams have the benefit of being able to access research and recommendations from Towards Optimized Practice (TOP). TOP is a group working with Alberta physicians and care teams to provide the best health care to Albertans. One of the TOP programs is the Alberta Screening and Prevention (ASaP) tool. ASaP suggests health screening guidelines based on age, gender and the presence of any other health concerns or risk factors. Health screening can include checking your weight, blood pressure and doing other lab tests to find concerns at an early stage before they become big problems. To learn more about health screening guidelines, visit http://www.topalbertadoctors.org/file/asap-maneuvers-menu.pdf. As my dear old dad also says – "the only thing worse than having a problem, is having a problem you don't know about."
If you're curious about the benefits of health screening and which tests are recommended for you, make an appointment and talk to your family doctor about health screening. Together you can work to keep your body as healthy as possible. Don't have a family doctor? You can find a list of family doctors accepting new patients at www.edmontonareadocs.ca.
This article was written by Stephanie Olechow, Registered Nurse at Alberta Heartland Primary Care Network, and was reviewed by Dr. R. Rajput, Board of Director for AHPCN.
Published in the Fort Saskatchewan Record on November 16, 2017