The ritual of the annual physical examination is scrutinized with respect to its clinical value. The periodic physical examination is not usually a health examination, because it does not include all components that affect a person's total health. The annual physical examination is usually not of importance to the physician unless disease is discovered. Seldom is the examination used as an opportunity to reinforce behaviors which have kept the patient healthy. It has been suggested that physician extenders be used to deliver primary care services, including comprehensive health examinations, with physicians used as backup. Laymen should not have to seek out specialists to give them examinations for each system of the body. Comprehensive health care should be available and accessible to all segments of the public with an emphasis on greater self-responsibility for maintaining one's health and enhancing one's wellness.