Baylor College of Medicine

Start off New Year with physical exam

Jeannette Jimenez


Houston, TX -
Media Component
Dr. Carmen Robinson recommends getting a physical as a great place to start for those looking to improve their health in the new year.

For many people, the new year marks a chance to start taking better care of their bodies and minds. According to a family medicine physician at Baylor College of Medicine, getting a physical can be a great place to start for those looking to improve their health.

“The main reason people should get a routine health exam is because it can screen for problems and diseases before they start or before they get bad,” said Dr. Carmen Robinson, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor. “When you find a problem early enough and receive good treatment, your chances of getting back to optimal health is much better and with that may come a higher quality of life and likelihood that you will live longer.”

Robinson recommended that all children and adults get a physical at least once a year. However, she cautioned that some people may have to visit the doctor more frequently based on their different risk factors or disease processes.

She added that there are some differences in the way physicals are approached depending on if the patient is a child or an adult.

“When you bring your child in for a well-child check, the emphasis is more on what lifestyle choices you are making for your child and what risk factors we can mitigate in the child. For children, we are really looking at all of the home, school and other social risk factors that may impact the health and development of the child,” Robinson said.

She explained that for adults, physicians look more at what lifestyle choices the person has made for themselves that may positively or negatively impact their health. For example, doctors are concerned with whether or not the patient smokes, how much the patient exercises, how much the patient drinks and how stressful the patient’s job is. Doctors also conduct cancer screenings like those for cervical cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.

For those people who may be fearful of visiting the doctor for a physical or for those who have a hard time scheduling a physical, Robinson said that they cannot adequately take care of others, such as family, clients, customers or employees, if they do not take care of themselves.

“It’s important that we take responsibility for our own health and take ownership of our wellness. Part of my job is to hand-in-hand help my patients to be upfront and in charge of both their physical and mental well-being,” Robinson said.

For those who avoid getting a physical out of the fear that they will be given bad news, she emphasized that it is extremely important to push those fears back because the sooner they are able to find out whether or not there is an issue, the more efficiently they are able to treat it.

“We cannot treat what we do not know, and we cannot get you to optimal health if we do not know what is going on. Also, you, as the patient, should want to know whether or not something is wrong because if you are not healthy, it is important for you to start taking the steps necessary to get back to better health,” Robinson said.

Lastly, she encouraged people to feel empowered to ask their physician questions.

“If you read something online or heard something from a friend, it is much better to get the correct information from a healthcare provider rather than act on poor or false information,” Robinson said. “We are happy to clarify any misconceptions or provide clarification on any point. You need to find a provider that you are able to have a good rapport with and who you can establish a good, trusting relationship with because that is only going to benefit your health.”

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