Oh darn, I’m 3 months past due for my pap smear AANND, I forgot to complete my monthly self-breast exam. This has probably been you more than once, but you’re not alone! As an emergency medicine Physician Assistant and health advocate (care to join me for a run?), I know better. I know how important it is to take care of yourself and be proactive about your health, which is why I want to talk to you today about preventative care. After all, it’s the things you don’t necessarily know that can hurt you. Are fully aware of what proactive measures you should take to ensure your long term health and wellness? Chances are you’ve heard a few things to do every now and then, but are you intentionally keeping your wellness top of mind and has your health been engrained in you to be a priority?
Probably not, but no judgement...I GOT YOU!
I’m no spring chicken necessarily (I’m forever 21 in mind, and look it too), so I asked myself, what are some things I would like to have been taught as a teenager, and maybe even in my 20’s about my health. Now, there are many things that I could share with you about lessons learned from my 20’s, but instead I’ve comprised a couple of lists for you. Here are the 4 doctors you must have a relationship with and the tests you should prioritize according to your age. My hope is that you call you doctor asap if you need to. 😉
FOUR DOCTORS ALL WOMEN SHOULD HAVE
#1 ⇢ Primary Care Physician
A primary care physician is a generalist who looks after your overall health pertaining to preventative care and managing illnesses. Every woman needs a PCP for well-woman exams and even minor emergency care if needed.
#2 ⇢ Obstetrician/Gynecology
An ob/gyn specializes in women’s health and reproductive system. It is imperative to get yearly pap smears, and STI testing if you are sexually active. Also, this is the time to start thinking about fertility care. There are many women who is given the knowledge sooner, would have began speaking with a specialist about their fertility.
#3 ⇢ Mental Health/Licensed Professional Counselor
A healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of mental illness or coping of situations such as abuse/addictions, family/marriage counseling and is a specialist on handling the stressors of everyday life.
#4 ⇢ Dermatologist
A physician who has attended medical school who specializes in the diagnoses of illnesses and treatments of skin diseases. Also specializes in preventative skin disease.
Ladies, it is important to take care of your skin. The skin is the largest organ on your body and your nutrition and everyday habits can affect it significantly. Here’s why its sooooo important ⇢ When I was a student, I had a patient who was only 22 years old and had been to 16 previous physicians and was told her ‘bump” was merely a mole. I encouraged my preceptor to send her to a dermatologist and rheumatologist. It turns out that she had melanoma (cancerous skin tissue) growing inside her body. She returned to our clinic months later on chemotherapy thanking me for saving her life. Please start early taking care of your skin.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR THESE TESTS
Here is your list of MUST have preventative healthcare assessments that you should have. Please print this out and place it on your mirror OR pin the images so you have them!
18 - 39 YEARS YOUNG
cholesterol check in your 20’s then annually after 35.
full body skin check for suspicious lesions.
exam breast for lumps.
pap smear should be conducted every 3 years starting at age 21, unless abnormal. If abnormal pap smear, conduct every 6 months.
40 - 64 YEARS YOUNG
mammograms starts at age 40, and to be done annually if breast cancer runs in your family, test must be done 10 years prior to the age of their diagnoses.
full body scan for moles or lesions.
fasting blood sugar levels for signs of diabetes.
colonoscopy at age 50 or earlier if family member has cancer.
colorectal screenings should be completed every 10 years.
65+ YEARS YOUNG
bone density scan should be done every 2 to 5 years.
ask physician about need for pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations.
pneumonia vaccine every 5 years for certain conditions such as COPD and diabetes.
Ladies, bottom line is, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Please stay informed about your health and your body!!! Call your doctor ASAP if you need to make an appointment, you are worth it!
Shana Robinson is an extroverted introvert who is an avid fitness fanatic, half-marathon running Physician Assistant whose passion is helping her patients become healthy individuals while living quality lives. She is the co-founder, owner and operator of Code Health, LLC (codehealthtx.com) whose mission is to teach every person from the layman to physicians CPR as well as other advanced life support courses. She also has a passion for helping students pursue careers in medicine and is actively involved in her church.
Shana supports many organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundations, as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation. She proudly represents the crimson and cream dream whose sorority name is Delta Sigma Theta. On any given day, you can find her in the gym, rearranging her budget, or chasing her fur-baby, Roxie. Please note: she loves skittles candy, vanilla protein shakes, and dancing around the house while cleaning. She does not like cooked tomatoes, mashed potatoes (don’t @ me. Ha!), or brussel sprouts.