One of the most important aspects of primary care is the doctor-patient relationship. You can start building that relationship by scheduling at least one visit a year with your primary care physician.

The more your physician gets to know you as a patient, the more he or she can help with health problems early on, when they are much easier to treat.

When it is time for your appointment, there are things you can do to help prepare and make the most use of this valuable time. Start by making a list of questions you want to cover. Include any symptoms you might be experiencing, or recently have experienced, that cause you concern. If you have a list, it will be easier not to forget anything.

It is very important that you bring all of your medications with you to your appointment. Whether seeing your primary care physician, an urgent care physician, an emergency room physician or a specialist, bringing your medications along to all medical visits helps the physician make sure you receive the best care possible.

If your physician is unaware of all the medications you are taking on your own or that have been prescribed by someone else, he or she might unknowingly write another prescription for the same or a similar drug, or for a conflicting one.

To avoid these complications, make sure every physician you see is aware of the names, doses and timing of all your medications. No matter how well you think you know your prescriptions, it is easy to forget a name or dosage amount. So whenever possible, bring your medications with you in their originally labeled containers from the pharmacy.

Many medications have the potential for adverse interactions when taken with another prescription. Physicians are trained to look for these medication conflicts. Bringing even the most common over-the-counter medications and supplemental vitamins can help your provider ensure the safety and most effective use of your medication. Over-the-counter medications that you should bring include sleep and motion sickness aids, headache remedies, cold remedies, laxatives and upset stomach aids, vitamins and nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies.

At the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program, we educate young family medicine physicians to care for all age groups in our community. We teach our residents the full scope of family medicine, including prenatal and obstetrical care, pediatric care, and adult, geriatric and behavioral medicine. They learn how to care for individuals in the context of the whole family. This care includes managing medications – making sure each patient understands the medications they are taking and why they are important.

Always remember the connection between your physician and your medications. Help your physician provide the best care possible for you by bringing your medications to every appointment.

In addition to caring for patients and teaching at the McLeod Family Medicine Center, Dr. Allan Macdonald, MD, FAAFP, is the associate program director for the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program. He is board certified in family medicine. His practice is accepting new patients. Appointments can be made by calling 843-777-2800.