Get Those Regular Checkups

By Dr. Kathleen Kozak
Interviewed by Rasa Fournier
Wednesday - July 06, 2011
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Dr. Kathleen Kozak
Internist at Straub Clinic and Hospital

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I did a six-year B.A.M.D. program at Lehigh University and the Medical College of Pennsylvania. My residency was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

How long have you been practicing?

This makes 12 years at Straub.


How long have you had your radio program The Body Show?

This July makes it ayear. I’m on 89.3 FM KIPO Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m.

When should people begin regular checkup visits with the doctor, and is it really that important?

Everybody should get a basic general exam because it’s from there that you can determine family-related risks, age related risks and behavior-related risks, and establish a schedule for maintaining your good health throughout the rest of your life. For women, the gynecologist is essential, too. There’s preventative screening in addition to personal risk assessment and family risk assessment that starts with a basic general exam.

Dr. Kathleen Kozak chats with a guest on ‘The Body Show’. Nathalie Walker photo .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

One of the things people shouldn’t do when they go in for a general exam is make a list of 10 things that they really want to discuss. As much as we would like to, we can’t do a general exam and hit all of those 10 things.

We start off with a general exam, and then over time get to every single one of those things on the list. That’s one of the reasons we’re particularly excited about HealthAdvantage, available to all Straub (and other Hawaii Pacific Health) patients. This free service allows patients to partner with their doctors and stay actively engaged and involved with their care team.

What kind of testing happens during a general exam?

It all starts with taking a good history of you and your family, and testing is done based on your age and risk factors identified during that visit. It’s important to list any vitamins or supplements a patient is taking. Sometimes people who use herbal supplements feel like they are going to be judged or criticized by their doctor, so they decide not to mention it. But more information is always better. Antibiotics, blood thinners and possible upcoming surgery are things that can be affected by supplement use.

How does a person find a good general doctor?

Ask your friends, ask your family, and if you don’t know, you should be able to get a list of participating doctors from your health insurance provider. Some of our local hospitals also have a referral line that can help you, too.


You have worked as a doctor in many countries. With summertime here, what’s the best way to be prepare for travel, especially to third-world countries?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has an excellent website, cdc.gov, with a section on travelers’ health, and I refer to that all the time. It’s essential that people take a look because there’s nothing worse than going on a two-week trip somewhere exotic and spending 13 out of your 14 days sick with malaria, food poisoning, etc.

I often tell patients to bring some antibiotics just in case you eat something funny. You can purchase medicines in other countries, but there’s no guarantee that you’re getting the right pills. If it looks suspicious, if it crumbles, if it has weird writing on it, just don’t go there. The easiest thing is to get checked out in advance. Ask your doctor, or see if there is a travel clinic that you can check in with before you go. It’s worth it, and then you can enjoy your trip even more!

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