Are there different kinds of physicals?

Let's Get (a) Physical!

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about what tests and examinations are involved in a “routine” physical.  Last week we talked about what is typically covered as part of a routine physical.  And today we’re going to wrap up our series on physicals by discussing the 5 different kinds of physicals you may come in to see us for at the Wilce Student Health Center. 

  1. A physical examination for routine Preventive Medical Care (see our Should I get a Physical post)
  2. A physical examination to screen for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s)
  3. An annual physical examination for women (pelvic and breast exam, PAP smear, and STD screening)
  4. A Travel Physical to review your medical history, receive recommended immunizations before traveling to other parts of the world, and discuss ways to protect your health while you’re there.  If you need a form completed for that travel, then a separate visit will be required, which brings us to…
  5. A physical that is required to complete a form for a particular program or job, such as a study abroad program, or a work physical, or before starting an exercise or sports program, etc.  Some of these physicals (for example, the one for the Peace Corps) require additional lab tests and/or immunizations, so they may require two or more appointments.

Remember, these preventive visits are for when you don’t have a specific concern or symptom.  If you are having a particular problem or symptom, then you’ll need to make a separate appointment to address it.  Not only is there generally not enough time to address a separate symptom or concern during an appointment for a physical, but insurance companies view these types of visits very differently, and there’s a chance that one or the other might not get covered if they get mixed up in one visit.

When in doubt, contact your insurance company to find out what their policies are.  But no matter what, we are always glad to see you for whatever health care needs you may have.

Mary Jane Elam, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University