In the land of doctors that specialize in nearly every part of your body, it can be hard to find a family doctor. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a specialist on feet if you have foot problems? Similarly, you probably don’t hesitate to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for that chronic ear infection. Although specialists can treat specific health conditions, seeing a variety of specialists without the advisement of a family or primary care physician may not be doing you or your health any favors. It’s time you found a great family doctor you can trust.
Your family doctor or primary care provider – which includes both physicians and advanced practice providers like a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician’s assistant (PA) - may not have the needed training to treat specific conditions as well as a specialist would. But the work they do is invaluable to your health. Let’s talk about why a family doctor or primary care provider is an essential part of your health care team. Remember, a primary care provider can include family practice physicians, internal medicine physicians, and advanced practice providers.
- They can treat many things and will determine what care may be needed and will coordinate any specialty care that might be needed. Are you depressed? Your family doctor can help. How about that rash you’ve had for three months? Your family doctor can help. When you see a family doctor, you can rest assured they have a broad-base of knowledge. Which means they can take a holistic approach to your health and treatment.
- You get to know your family doctor or primary care provider. Building a relationship is the foundation of working with a primary care physician or advanced practice provider (APP). With that familiarity comes comfort and ease of communication that you just don’t get when you book a doctor’s appointment with a stranger. Not only that, but your family doctor becomes very aware of your health concerns and health history.
- Chronic disease management is with a primary care provider allows you to consider all aspects of your disease like diabetes or heart disease. They will work in partnership with specialists. Do you have diabetes? Your family care doctor will help you manage it. The same is true of heart disease or any other chronic condition.
- You stay up to date with regular screenings. It’s hard to remember to schedule yourself for a pap smear. But your family doctor or primary care provider will remind you. When you’re up to date with your regular screenings, your health care costs go down and your doctor may catch major health concerns more quickly than if you were seeing a bunch of specialists.
- You spend less time in the emergency room. If you’re running to the emergency room every time you get sick or have a problem, getting a family doctor will help. Most family doctors keep times open daily to meet with sick patients with little to no notice. Less time in the emergency room means more time and money in your pocket.
- Referrals to specialists as needed. You probably don’t know when you need to see a specialist and when you don’t. Your family doctor will refer you to a specialist as needed and can help ease or treat your condition in the meantime.
Finding a great family physician can feel overwhelming. Ask your family and friends for recommendations. Check online reviews where you can find information about office hours, same day appointments, or if they communicate by text or email. Know which hospital your doctor would refer you to if he ever needed to do so. If for some reason you still don’t like your family physician, switch! You want to be able to trust your family doctor and communicate well, so don’t hesitate to find a doctor or provider you can trust.