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Healthy You

Family checklist for annual medical appointments

Monday, December 18, 2023 4:25 PM

By Endeavor Health

When you’re feeling good, or if you’re a parent and your kids are healthy, it’s easy to breeze through life without scheduling check-ups with a doctor.

With busy schedules, it’s understandable. However, annual visits with a primary care doctor can help kids grow up healthy and help prevent health issues in adults down the road.

Doctors appointment

“For adults, an annual visit with your primary care doctor is a great way to keep your health on track as you age,” said Jana Mohan, MD, a family medicine physician with Endeavor Health. “Even if you’re feeling great, your annual checkup helps establish a baseline that your doctor can use to track changes in your health over time.”

As kids grow, annual visits with a pediatrician are important to ensure their development is on track and that they receive the immunizations they need at each age.

Making these medical appointments each year will help keep your family’s health on track.

Children (from birth through age 12):

  • Primary care doctor. In their first year of life, babies are growing and changing quickly and need frequent checkups. Expect to bring your baby in for a well child checkup a few days after coming home from the hospital, when your baby is less than a week old, then again at 1 month of age, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. Your doctor will also want to see your child at age 15 months, 18 months, 2 years and 2 ½ years old. After the whirlwind of visits throughout the first couple of years, it’s best to bring your child in for a well child visit every year.
  • Eye doctor. Experts recommend children have their first eye exam at 6 months, then have eye exams every two years if no vision correction is needed.
  • Dentist. Children should start regular dentist visits once their first tooth emerges, or by their first birthday, and continue every six months.


Teens should continue to see their physician once a year for a checkup, as they’re still growing and developing, and continue the dentist and eye doctor visits. Plus, girls should add on one more appointment:

  • Girls: Gynecologist. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls first see a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15. If your daughter has problems with her period, she may need to go earlier. Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) and nurse midwives, as well as many family medicine and internal medicine physicians, can provide gynecologic care and well-woman visits.

In your 20s and 30s:

During this age, continue to see your primary care physician (PCP). Get an annual checkup, including a physical exam, blood pressure check and bloodwork, from an internal medicine physician or a family medicine physician. Your doctor will know if you are due for any vaccinations, including a tetanus booster or chickenpox vaccine. Make a calendar note each fall to get a flu shot, and get the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven't already. Plus, add these appointments:

  • Women: Gynecologist. Your annual exam should include a Pap test, HPV test, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam, and, if you have a new sex partner, screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you have more than one sexual partner, it might make sense to have a Pap test and STI test every six months.
  • Dermatologist. Make an annual appointment for a full-body skin check, especially if you're fair-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer.
  • Eye doctor. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with healthy vision should have a complete exam by an ophthalmologist once in their 20s, twice in their 30s, and then get a complete eye examination at age 40.
  • Dentist. The American Dental Association recommends dental cleanings/checkups once or twice a year.

In your 40s, add:

  • Women: MammogramThis annual screening can detect breast cancer in its early stages when it’s most treatable. Ask your gynecologist whether you have dense breasts and should get a 3D mammogram.
  • Men: Annual rectal exam/PSA blood test from your primary care doctor to screen for prostate cancer.
  • Gastroenterologist: Colonoscopy. While this isn’t an annual exam, it’s important to put this screening on your radar as it can detect early signs of colorectal cancer and remove polyps and tumors. Work with your PCP to identify a gastroenterologist, a doctor with special training in colonoscopies. Adults should begin regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45-75 (those at high risk should begin earlier). Adults age 76-85 should ask their doctor if they should be screened. If your colonoscopy shows no polyps, you can usually wait 10 years before getting another one.

In your 50s, add:

  • Lung screening. An annual lung cancer screening, or low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), is recommended for adults between the ages of 50 and 80 with a 20 pack-year smoking history (smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, or two packs a day for 10 years) and who currently smoke, or former smokers who quit within the past 15 years.

In your 60s, add:

  • Osteoporosis screening. Women age 65 or older (and younger women at increased risk) should ask their doctor if they need a bone density scan.

If you have a family history of certain diseases or other risk factors, you may need to have earlier or more frequent appointments and screenings. Ask your PCP what appointments to add to your wellness routine.

NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare and Edward-Elmhurst Health are now united under one name, Endeavor Health. We’re setting a new standard for healthcare that’s focused on you, because your best health is our endeavor. Learn more.

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