If you are relatively young, fit, and healthy, it is reasonable to think you may not need to see a doctor or nurse very often. While that might be true if you do not have chronic conditions, there are still plenty of great reasons to attend regular checkups.
Whether you suffer from occasional lower back pain, persistent coughing, or trouble getting to sleep at night, if a health concern stops you from living a full and happy life, you should always contact your local health center.
However, in this guide, we will take you through why simple health assessments are important for people from all walks of life – even when they do not have any complaints!
What are healthcare assessments?
Healthcare assessments are regular checkups to learn more about physical and mental health. Much like you would take a vehicle for regular performance checks, you should always do the same for your body!
A health assessment may be as simple as a general checkup to check your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, heart health, mobility, and more. Sometimes, you will attend a clinic to help prevent diseases or conditions you may be predisposed to through family links (such as diabetes or heart disease).
Some assessments can also be preventive (and we will cover this in more detail further down). Suppose you are in a specific age group and are more at risk of certain types of cancer, joint conditions, or neurological issues. In that case, a physician may recommend a full assessment to see if you require any medication or support.
Assessments can both prevent conditions and help cure some conditions. For example, if you are at risk of heart disease and your cholesterol is too high for your age and sex, a doctor may recommend lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise).
In any case, a healthcare assessment is a great opportunity to get a unique insight into your body and how you can better look after it!
Are there different types of healthcare assessment?
While most assessments will be ad hoc or ongoing (e.g., a doctor will ask to see you every six months to a year), some are generalized, while others are more focused.
A general or initial health assessment may need you to agree to a few different tests. For example, you may need to complete a diet questionnaire, test your reflexes, or even show the limits of your mobility.
Beyond general and initial assessments, nurses may ask to see you for more focused appointments. These typically occur when your assessor (a nurse or physician, for example) finds an issue they feel needs more investigation.
For example, if, during your first assessment, you show signs of osteoporosis when walking or show signs of an internal issue, a professional will likely refer you to a focused session. These sessions are vital in helping to diagnose potential problems that nurses and doctors can start treating.
During these sessions, physicians and nurses may find signs of cancer, for example. With regular assessments, they may spot the various telltale signs of cancerous cells early enough to move to oncology and further treatment.
In other cases, some patients may find they need emergency care. For example, if an assessor feels that their patient is at severe risk of organ failure, they will arrange for an emergency, in-depth investigation before further help continues.
As it happens, different nurses and assessors may have different specialist areas in which they can provide advice and physical support. Those heading to reputable universities such as Rockhurst University may study nurse practitioner specialties to learn skills to treat specific needs during assessments. Their post-master programs feature as little as 4 semesters of coursework alongside 600 clinical hours to ensure graduates are prepared for their first role.
For example, some nurses may specialize in caring for children, women, or older people. Others may have an interest in gynecology, oncology, or endocrinology. Many talented nurses care for patients of all ages with various ailments, however!
Healthcare assessments and different age groups
One of the biggest misconceptions about healthcare is that only vulnerable or elderly people need regular checkups. While these patients may be some of the most at-risk for disease and chronic conditions, seeing a nurse regularly to check you are in top condition is still useful.
After all, what may feel like a slight pain or aggravation may be an underlying symptom of a broader problem a doctor or nurse can help to resolve. The earlier medical professionals can detect underlying symptoms of wider problems, the sooner patients can receive the care and attention they need.
For infants and young children, this is especially important. Children are often most at risk of contracting diseases and viruses as they have yet to build up natural immunity. What is more, nurses can assess children and babies to see if there are any indicators of underlying conditions they can start treating sooner rather than later.
For example, children displaying symptoms of physical conditions and neurological diseases can receive early support that grows and adapts as they age. A child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or ADHD, for instance, benefits from regular assessments so they can start to self-manage their symptoms later in life.
Adolescents and young people, too, benefit hugely from regular assessments. Once sexually active, young people are naturally at risk of contracting venereal diseases – meaning education and regular assessments are vital.
The older people get, the more likely they will be at risk of joint problems, heart disease, strokes, and waning immunity. Some nurses and physicians may recommend increasingly regular appointments the older a patient gets!
Of course, as we are all different in our body makeup and lifestyle choices, one path will never fit the wider populace. People need to speak openly with their nurses and doctors to find an assessment and treatment pattern to support their physical and mental health as the years pass.
What is more, denying the need for a health assessment on the grounds of “feeling fine” is not always the healthiest route. People at risk of hereditary illnesses (cancers, joint problems, or organ deficiency) should always take regular assessments seriously.
Healthcare assessments and disease prevention
As discussed, a key benefit to health assessments is that they can be helpful in discovering underlying problems or spotting signs that patients may be at risk of specific diseases and ailments. While it is sadly not possible to prevent a patient from contracting all the diseases across the globe, modern nursing has come on leaps and bounds in helping to protect people as much as possible.
For example, vaccinations are proven highly useful in helping to fight off and eradicate diseases that would otherwise cause severe illness (and even death). Successful examples include polio and smallpox vaccines, the latter of which helped wipe out the condition going back centuries.
Hundreds of years ago, thousands of us were dying through contracting the Black Death. Without healthcare assessments and treatment development, we would still be at the mercy of painful, often relentless disease.
A modern example of a successful vaccine rolled out worldwide is the two-year COVID-19 program. Nurses can now administer booster shots to help protect some of the most vulnerable people in society from what is still a highly contagious virus.
Beyond vaccines, nurses and doctors can use healthcare assessments to influence patients to take better care of themselves and prevent illness.
For example, simple dietary changes can help prevent obesity and, thus, the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, and more. Cardiovascular exercise – even 30 minutes extra a day – can help keep one’s heart healthy and active. Exercise is also helpful in releasing endorphins, which may help to ease mental health concerns over time.
In addition, nurses and physicians may also suggest supplements or medicines that patients can take to help relieve specific symptoms and prevent the onset of chronic disease. For example, regular vitamin D intake can help promote stronger overall immunity and help balance energy levels.
Ultimately, regular or otherwise healthcare assessments can help promote treatment courses over time. Regular checkups may result in patients adjusting their courses, too, with nurses monitoring how they respond to less or more medication over time (as an example).
Patients need to keep open minds when attending health assessments. These checkups may not provide cures for various conditions but can help people to help themselves.
The overall benefits of regular healthcare assessments
It is a fact that many of us only end up seeing nurses and doctors when we feel ill. It is only natural! If you feel fit and healthy to go about your everyday life and work as usual, why would you disrupt that balance?
However, there are plenty of great reasons why checking in for regular assessments will support a happier, healthier you for a long time to come. Here are just a few you might want to consider before booking in.
- You will learn more about your body
We all think we know our bodies inside and out, but there are still moments when they surprise us! Of course, the last thing you will want is a nasty surprise. Regular assessments will keep you in check with your internal and external health.
As mentioned, various tests and checks will also help to identify early signs of cancer before cells become too malignant. That means, providing you see nurses and doctors regularly, you could add years to your life.
That said, balancing how often you check in for appointments is wise. Always follow your healthcare provider’s example. It is unhealthy to keep booking checkups and to worry endlessly about potential diseases when you are not even at risk.
- You will learn more about your family
Again, many of us like to think we know all about our families and their health histories. However, we do not always get the full picture when we ask around – meaning that testing for hereditary illnesses and weaknesses is a must.
Inherited conditions vary, of course – and they are never predictable. What is more, you can be at any age and find out if you have a genetic predisposition or are more likely to contract certain conditions or ailments.
Sadly, we cannot always rely on Mom and Dad to give us the full story when it comes to medical history. In some cases, conditions and predispositions can even skip a generation or two! It is best to see a nurse regularly who can help you stick to a healthy path ahead.
- You will benefit from exceptional care
While many of us feel we know what is best for our bodies, talented nurses, doctors, and specialists know what to look for when it comes to preventative measures and how to cure or treat certain conditions. You cannot, sadly, treat everything with supplements.
While you may feel well in yourself, a nurse or doctor will tell you just how true that is! This can make attending healthcare assessments a scary process – especially if you are a parent taking a child to surgery or know you are at risk of certain hereditary conditions.
However, the best-trained nurses and specialists know what to look for and how to support their patients. Understandably, attending these sessions can feel scary at first. However, it is altogether scarier to find out about an underlying problem much further down the line when earlier treatment may have stopped it.
Medicine is always evolving
As much as we have come a long way since the Dark Ages, medicine and treatments are still evolving. There’s so much we still do not know about our bodies and the illnesses they are at risk from. Therefore, it is important to keep attending assessments purely for the latest advancements.
Screenings and treatments are getting more precise, so nurses find it easier to spot underlying problems sooner. That also means patients can go back to living their lives sooner.
It is short-sighted to assume that medicine has come as far as it ever will. With threats of antibiotic resistance on the rise and with advancements in treating HIV and AIDS via vaccines growing all the more impressive, it is safe to assume that the healthcare landscape will look very different in ten years compared to how it looks right now.
What might prevent people from receiving assessments?
Unfortunately, some barriers may prevent people from getting the help they need from regular checkups and assessments. In some cases, these barriers are completely preventable, either on the patient’s or the provider’s behalf. In other cases, there need to be more open conversations between providers and patients for healthcare support to truly benefit the latter.
For example, a large barrier preventing people from accessing healthcare checkups is simply a lack of awareness. As mentioned, many of us only see a doctor or nurse when we feel unwell. By promoting the importance of regular checkups with their patients, many more people will likely find the support and remedies they need to live longer, healthier lives.
Beyond this, many people in the US avoid taking advantage of healthcare purely because of the financial demand. The cost of emergency healthcare in the US alone is often far too expensive for families to afford – and in some cases, insurance coverage may not be applicable.
Therefore, those people receiving low income may avoid seeking out appointments or checkups unless absolutely necessary – purely in the name of saving money.
Finally, there may also be cultural and language barriers preventing people from receiving the healthcare support they need. Poor communication between providers and patients can result in some people going years without getting support. Unfortunately, this puts such people at risk of underlying conditions going unchecked.
In this particular scenario, a healthcare provider will need to be interculturally sensitive and appeal to as many different people in their local area as possible. Patients, too, can take steps to meet their nurses and doctors halfway, especially if they wish to integrate fully into a new society after moving from abroad.
Ultimately, healthcare checkups are available for millions of people across the US. Sadly, however, some of the biggest barriers to care will remain for some time. It is up to individuals to remain proactive and to always follow up on doctors’ and nurses’ advice!
A healthcare assessment is much like a quick checkup on how you are “performing.” Everybody is slightly different, but talented nurses and doctors take their time to assess, analyze and diagnose patients so they know what to suggest to help keep them healthy and happy for the years ahead.
If you are keen to stay healthy (and why wouldn’t you be!), it is a great idea to check in regularly with your local health center and to ensure you have a regular assessment schedule.
The purpose of this guide was not to cause any scaremongering – however, it has never been more important to start taking care of yourself – and you can’t wait for anyone else to do that for you!