Physicians specialize in over a hundred different areas of care. Primary care accounts for only a small number of them, but research indicates that access to a primary care provider can bring major benefits to individuals and families.
What is a Primary Care Doctor?
A primary care provider is a doctor who can help you with preventive care through the delivery of routine physicals, checkups, and vaccinations. They can also help you manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Primary care physicians and nurse practitioners are unique in the way they receive training in the treatment of a wide range of health conditions. Many also offer specialized care in areas such as pediatrics and geriatrics. In addition, when patients need medical care in areas that primary care doctors don’t specialize in, these doctors are able to expertly refer them to specialists.
What kind of primary care provider should you go to?
Primary care doctors tend to provide care in five different areas. These doctors have different kinds of focus, but can all help their patients with preventive healthcare, and the care of some chronic conditions. What follows is an easy-to-understand breakdown of the five areas of primary care there are.
Family medicine doctors:
Doctors who specialize in family medicine are able to care for every member of the family, from babies to their grandparents. If anyone in your family is unwell, you can’t go wrong making an appointment with a family medicine provider for expert, personalized care. When you have a regular family medicine doctor, you get to take advantage of the convenience of having one trusted doctor to turn to for everyone in your family, no matter what kind of health complaint there may be. A family medicine doctor can be a way to save time, as well, when you’re busy – it’s often possible to take multiple family members into one appointment when they all need care at the same time.
Pediatricians care for children from birth, right up till they turn eighteen. Everything from minor childhood afflictions to injuries and more serious conditions is all within the pediatrician’s expertise. Pediatricians are also well-versed in recognizing when developmental milestones occur. They are able to refer children to other specialists when needed. Since pediatricians have training in helping children feel comfortable while receiving care, they can be the ideal primary care providers to turn to for children who are shy.
Internal medicine doctors:
Often called internists, internal medicine doctors specialize in caring for everyone from young adults to seniors. They tend to be very familiar with the kind of care needed for every kind of chronic adult condition from diabetes to high blood pressure. They can be the right physicians to go to for both preventive care, and for more specialized care.
Internal medicine-pediatrics doctors: Often called med-peds, these doctors are board-certified in both pediatrics and internal medicine and can care for both children and adults. They make ideal family doctors.
Obstetrics and gynecology doctors have expert training in women’s health. They offer care for everything from birth-control needs to pregnancies and menopause. Women often consider their OB/GYNs their trusted personal doctors, and go to them for reproductive health, as well as for regular healthcare needs such as annual flu shots.
3 reasons to have a regular primary care doctor
It’s important to have a primary care doctor if you are to catch and treat illnesses in their earliest possible stages. Preventive care visits to primary doctors are covered by most health plans. If you don’t have a primary care doctor at the moment, what follows are 3 reasons you should consider getting one.
You’ll be healthier:
Research indicates that when people have regular access to primary care, they can expect to live longer. Such care correlates directly with greater access to preventive care, and earlier care for chronic conditions, helping people stay healthier.
You spend less on healthcare:
Accessing regular, preventive healthcare correlates so greatly with an ability to prevent expensive, major health crises, that visits to primary care physicians for such care are usually covered by insurance plans, most often with no co-pay. Getting routine immunizations, physicals, and screenings, helps you stay clear of the need for expensive care down the road. One study indicates that people accessing primary care on a regular basis experience healthcare costs that are third lower than those who don’t.
You spend less time caring for your health:
Primary care providers are trained to recognize a wide variety of health conditions, which means that you’re able to ask questions about multiple complaints, all in one appointment. Often, you don’t even need to make separate appointments for treatment, should any be called for. Treatment is delivered right with your consultation.
Primary care providers offer care wherever possible, and, when they come upon health conditions that need greater expertise in different areas, inform you about what kind of specialists you may need. It’s important to understand the people have far greater control over their health than it appears to them. All you need is a professional with a broad range of expertise guiding you every step of the way.