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Health news and blog

    Primary care

    What should I ask my primary care provider?

    The best questions to ask during your next primary care appointment, according to our experts.


    Visiting your primary care provider (PCP) is one of the best steps you can take to maintain good health. It's not just about getting a check-up – it’s also about understanding your health. Asking the right questions during these appointments can make a big difference. 

    Vanessa Galli, MD, Family Medicine physician at West Valley Clinic – Family Medicine, shared some essential questions to consider during your next primary care visit. 

    “When patients ask me questions, it shows they’re invested in their own healthcare,” said Dr. Galli. “This allows for the best team-based approach between the patient and physician.”

    How does my family history affect my health?

    Your family’s health history can provide important insights into your own health risks. For example, if your close relatives have heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, you might be at higher risk for these conditions.

    Your PCP can explain what specific risks you face and suggest ways to mitigate them. Understanding your family history can help you take preventive measures and get the necessary screenings to catch potential issues early.

    How can I improve my lifestyle?

    A healthy lifestyle is crucial for preventing many chronic diseases. Ask your PCP for personalized advice on improving your diet, exercise habits, and sleep patterns. Small, manageable changes can lead to significant health benefits.

    Dr. Galli shared that her favorite patient questions revolve around lifestyle. “How we live our lives is at the foundation of how we manage our overall health and medical conditions,” she said.

    Do I need any screenings?

    Screenings are vital for detecting health issues early when they are often easier to treat. Ask your doctor which screenings are appropriate for you based on your age, gender, and medical history.

    Even if you’re young and healthy, it’s important to keep up with screenings, and have an established PCP. “That physician is going to be there to survey your health as you get older,” said Dr. Galli. “Also, when you’re young and healthy, you can still have medical events.” 

    Your doctor will guide you on how frequently you need tests and what the results mean. Early detection through regular screenings can lead to better health outcomes and peace of mind.

    Is this pain/discomfort normal?

    It’s easy to dismiss occasional aches and pains, but discussing them with your PCP is important. Ask if the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing is normal or if it warrants further investigation. Provide details such as when the pain started, how often it occurs, and what alleviates or aggravates it.

    Your doctor can assess whether your symptoms are minor or if they require more serious attention. Never hesitate to bring up any physical discomfort – addressing it early can prevent more significant issues down the road.

    Do I need any vaccines?

    Vaccinations are a key part of preventive healthcare. Ask your PCP if you need any vaccines or booster shots. This may include the latest COVID-19 vaccine, a flu shot, tetanus booster, or vaccines for conditions like pneumonia and shingles.

    Staying up to date with vaccinations protects not only your health, but the health of those around you. Your doctor can provide a schedule of recommended vaccines based on your age, health status, and lifestyle.

    What’s the best way to reach you?

    Effective communication with your PCP is essential. Ask about the best way to contact them if you have questions or concerns after your appointment. This could be through phone calls, emails, or a patient portal. Intermountain Health offers unique patient portals, depending on where you live. Through these portals, you can see test results, get appointment reminders, and communicate with your PCP.

    Knowing how to reach your doctor ensures you can get timely answers to your questions. It also doesn’t hurt to ask the best times to contact them, and their expected response time.

    Asking questions during your PCP visit empowers an active role in your health. Don’t hesitate to speak up and ask any questions you have, no matter how small they may seem. Your doctor is there to help you, and open communication is key to a successful healthcare partnership. 


    What should I ask my primary care provider?