Check-Ups Have Changed for GenX

Photo Source: Kristine Wook, @ilovekwook, via Unsplash.

Kenneth Oja – Growing up in the 80s, I thought going to the doctor was kind of fun. To me, it was a little adventure with my mom that always ended with a special treat like a chocolate shake or a new Star Wars toy (sometimes both).

We’d drive for about an hour to get to the clinic, check in at the front desk, and then wait for the nurse to take us into the doctor’s exam room. I think this was a standard routine for the time, but things are different now.

As a GenXer, I’ve seen a number of changes in healthcare over the years. Let’s take a look at how things have changed.

Types of Healthcare Providers 

When I was a kid, I went to “the doctor” and that person was an MD, aka a medical doctor. The other main person was “the nurse” who took my temperature, got my weight, told me to change into a gown, and said “the doctor will be right with you!”

Today, doctors and nurses aren’t the only types of professionals you’ll encounter in the healthcare setting.

I hear the term “provider” being used a lot more and it can refer to a, medical doctor (MD), nurse practitioner (NP), or physician assistant (PA) – all of whom are trained and licensed to treat you medically. This doesn’t mean one is better than the other, I’ve received excellent care from both MDs and NPs, but GenXers need to be aware of the differences and realize that “the doctor” might not always be an MD like back in the day.    


Even though I still see my primary healthcare provider in person, I’ve also had more appointments via phone or video conferencing in recent years. So, if you’re GenX like me, be prepared for something other than the way you may have experienced your visits to the doctor as a kid.

Obviously, there will be things that can only be done in person, such as getting blood drawn or x-rays, but don’t be surprised if you’re scheduled for a telehealth visit at some point. Especially for an initial consultation with a new provider. It may not be what you’re used to, but I’ve enjoyed the convenience and still feel like virtual visits are helpful.

Preventative Care 

As a kid in the 80s, I remember mostly only associating the doctor with an “owie.” Like the time I sprained my ankle or burned my hand with hot caramel.

I’ve noticed that nowadays, there is much more of an emphasis on preventative care. My primary care provider focuses a lot more on ways that I can stay healthy and how I can live a healthier lifestyle as opposed to only providing treatment for an illness or injury after they’ve already occurred.

Yes, we still need to be treated when we are sick, but prevention seems to have become more of the focus over the years.

Being GenX, I’m more at risk for certain healthcare conditions, so I appreciate the more preventative approach to healthcare these days.

As a GenXer, it’s been interesting to experience how healthcare has changed since the time when I was growing up.

Although going to the doctor isn’t quite the adventure I remember when I was growing up, I think that, overall, changes in healthcare over the years have been for the better.

Like it or not, we GenXers are getting older and are probably spending more time in the healthcare system than we did when we were kids. I like that there are a variety of healthcare providers to choose from, they are more accessible, and the focus is on staying healthy.


Kenneth Oja, PhD, RN is a freelance writer specializing in nursing topics. Kenneth is a registered nurse with 19 years of combined experience in nursing clinical practice, education, and research.


Photo Source: Kristine Wook, @ilovekwook, via Unsplash.