Many patients wonder “Why Do I Need A Primary Care Physician?” The truth is, the best way to promote a long happy and healthy life is with preventive care and routine checkups. Your primary care physician (PCP) is someone you can develop a long standing relationship with, that can be there throughout each stage of your life. They will have knowledge of your family and personal medical history, an understanding of your lifestyle, and preferences. All of these things make it easier for them to deliver quality medical care:
Primary care physicians can practice in a wide variety of settings, including:
- medical clinics
- private or group practices
- long-term care facilities
- outpatient and inpatient hospital settings
When you see a primary care doctor, you can expect to have access to a full range of health services. Let’s take a closer look at the types of services a primary care physician can provide.
Wellness and prevention screenings
Primary care physicians commonly check for:
- high blood pressure
- other risk factors for heart disease
- high cholesterol
- diabetes mellitus
- breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancers
- developmental disorders
- status of immunizations to prevent illness
- sexually transmitted diseases
- signs of domestic violence
Acute illness and injury care
If you visit your primary care doctor because you’re sick, injured, or have symptoms that concern you, your doctor will likely be able to:
- perform lab tests to diagnose your condition
- prescribe appropriate medications for your condition
- check for interactions with other medicines you’re taking
- conduct an EKG (electrocardiogram) to evaluate your heart
- do spirometry tests to assess your lung function
- treat acute conditions like asthma attacks, migraine attacks, or urinary tract infections
- provide wound care
- manage fever or dehydration
- do preliminary tests to check for broken bones
- splint, cast, or brace injured limbs
- treat minor skin infections, bites, rashes, or muscle strains or sprains
- connect you with mental health resources in your community
- assess your need to see a specialist
If you have a long-term (chronic) health condition, your primary care physician can:
- coordinate care with specialists
- prescribe medications to manage your condition and change them if they stop working, adjusting when needed
- help you put together a diet, exercise, and self-care plan
- monitor drug interactions if you’re being treated for multiple conditions
- perform necessary lab tests to monitor your health and progress
- connect you with resources related to your condition
What kind of primary care physician do you need?
There are several kinds of physicians who provide primary care. Here’s a brief description of how they differ from each other.
Family doctors. These physicians treat patients of all ages. They are trained in adult medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatric medicine, and musculoskeletal care. In a typical family medical practice, around 10 to 15 percent of the patients are children.
Internists. Doctors who practice internal medicine specialize in treating adults. Like family doctors, they treat many acute and chronic conditions. Therefore, they receive training in many different fields, including endocrinology, rheumatology, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, and rehabilitation.
Pediatricians. Pediatricians complete special training that focuses on wellness, development, and treatment of the conditions that can affect babies, children, and teenagers up to the age of 21. Many pediatricians are primary care providers for children, but others may specialize further in a particular field such as pediatric neurology or cardiology.
Geriatricians. These physicians specialize in treating older adults. Because of their advanced training, they are especially adept at treating issues like insomnia, dementia, and balance problems. There are only around 6,900 certified geriatricians in the United States, so it may be harder to locate a geriatrician in your area than it is to find an internist or family doctor.
Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYN). These medical doctors specialize in women’s health and have training and expertise in reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum conditions. Some OB-GYNs provide many types of general health services, similar to an internist or family doctor, while others only focus on female reproductive health.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants. In some primary care practices, you may be treated by a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA). These highly trained professionals are increasingly important in primary care. They must earn a master’s degree, pass a certification exam, and maintain state licensure to practice. PAs are under the supervision of a physician, and about half of the states in the United States require physician oversight for NPs.
Supreme Medical Center in Houston
When it comes to getting better fast, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with your physician at the first sign of illness. At Supreme Medical Center our doctors work with you to treat your symptoms and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time.